Category: Education


Round up of the Open Design & Manufacture project

OD&M

Over the past 3 years Green Lab has been involved in an ongoing european funded project – Open Design & Manufacturing (OD&M). This project has involved a consortium of 10 other institutions including Higher education, Businesses and Maker spaces, working together on projects that focus on knowledge exchange and the notion of open design and manufacturing.
 

What is OD&M:

 
‘OD&M is a Knowledge Alliance dedicated to create and support communities of practices around the Open Design & Manufacturing paradigm, making the most of openness, sharing and collaboration to create new value chains of innovation in design and manufacturing oriented to the social good.

We are a community of students, university professors, researchers, makers, entrepreneurs and OD&M practitioners distributed across Europe and China. We pursue multi-disciplinarity, horizontal collaboration, challenge-based working and collective discovery as the salient features of empowering learning environments leading to social innovation in design and production.’

Other institutions that have taken part:

 
University of Florence, Lama, CSM, University of Deusto, University of Arts the London, Technalia, Tongji University, WSB University, FabLab Lodz, P2P Foundation
 

Projects that Green Lab has developed as part of the consortium:

 

Growing space + Recycled plastics project

We initially took part in the Growing Space project exhibited at Arts Work of the Future at the Tate Exchange, a project developed in collaboration with students & staff from the UAL Digital Maker Collective. Following on from this we ran a co-design workshop based brief to build upon the initial ideas generated for the TATE exchange exhibit. The second stage of this project investigated open source and flat pack furniture, end of life materials, urban agriculture and sustainable food systems. After multiple co-design workshops where ideas of accessiblity, modularity, sustainability and feasibility were all explored, alongside various idea generation and prototyping exercises the group focused on working with recycled food safe plastics to develop planters that could be used to grow food hydroponically.

Find out more
 

Future Algae Brief

We ran a 12 week live brief with 12 students from MA Industrial Design, UAL. This was an open design for sustainable living project which explored how open design-led processes can be used to develop future products, materials, new processes or services that use algae as the core material. The project gave students the chance to work hands on with algae as a material as well as speculate its future potential. We developed a temporary Material Lab at Green Lab for the students to utilise during this period, conducting material research and experimentation.

Find out more
 
students presenting their future algae project

Material Lab & Library

After the success of the Future Algae brief – we saw the potential need for a material laboratory enabling students and designer makers to work in the realm of material research. We built the lab from old industrial kitchen equipment and developed a messy space for experimentation that could easily be cleaned at the end of each use. With future materials and the development of open source recipes becoming a growing area of concern for many practitioners we see the material lab as a vital space for a community of like minded designers to grow and collaborate. The material library is a catalogue of various sustainable material samples, collected from both small scale makers and industry. The library is a tool to inform, inspire and encourage users to consider material choices at the starting point of designing a product.
 
Find out more
 

Research residents:

With the launch of our Material Lab we offered 3 students access to the space as part of an open source research residency.

Midushi Kochhar
Midushi was an MA Industrial Design student at CSM, UAL whilst taking part in the research residency. She utilised the opportunity to work on her project – A Waste Project – using waste eggshells and chicken feathers from the poultry industry to produce biodegradable single use tableware. Frustrated by the single use plastics epidemic Midushi combined her waste resources with various algaes to develop 100% organic composite materials. At the end of her residency she shared the recipe & method she had developed whilst using the material lab.

Find out more
 
A waste project

Riina Oun
Riina Oun, an MA Material Futures student from CSM, UAL, took part in our research residency with the aim to develop a vegan leather alternative. With an established career as leather glove maker, Riina wanted to find a more sustainable material that could offer the same properties as gloving leather. Using bacterial cellulose to grow her own material Riina utilised the lab to grow large quantities of Kombcuha Scoby, which was then turned into a composite material by adding a bio binder. Riina shared the recipe and method she developed whilst using the material lab via our wiki.

Find out more
 
Kombucha scoby composite

Valentina Dipietro
Valentina was an MA Textile Design student from the RCA whilst taking part in the research residency. She utilised the opportunity to continue working on her final project – mychrome – growing mycelium with agricultural waste to create interior surface panels. Mycelium is the root system of mushrooms and can be grown on waste organic substrates and it offers great properties for both thermo insulation and sound insulation. Mycelium requires a sterilised and controlled environment to grow, which the material lab offered. Valentina shared the recipe and method she developed whilst utilising the material lab via our wiki.

Find out more
 
Mychrome

A Closer Look At Bioplastics – A Solution to Plastic Waste?

(Green Lab, 2019)

Caroline Wood, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield (studying parasitic weeds that infect food crops) attended the Circular Economy Club’s event hosted at our openhouse in May, to learn more about the labs involvement in the current bioplastic debate. Since, Caroline has continued her research and published an interesting article on whether bioplastics are the answer to tackling the growing single use plastic issue.

In her feature Are bioplastics the solution to plastic waste?, Caroline lists the different types of bioplastics available and describes their composition. She provides some transparency on how bioplastics are recycled and composted, an area that is increasingly coming into question – with some bioplastics requiring specialist facilities, separate to the recycling of conventional plastics.  Moreover, she compares the environmental footprint of bioplastics with the impact of conventional plastics, with some bioplastics using raw materials, putting equal pressure on sea and land resources.

For this reason, Caroline advocates that it would be better to use waste materials for bioplastic production instead of creating a new need for resource intensive raw materials. By doing this, most of these waste materials would be available to the public. Caroline explains that “locally-produced, abundantly available waste materials […] [offer] the chance to move plastic production from large corporations to community ventures”. Caroline also met with Green Lab residents Materiom whilst at the event. Materiom are an online open source database that share bioplastic recipes and therefore encourage anybody to create their own bioplastic materials. An important area of there research includes utilising waste materials as a resource, as well as localised manufacture and recipes that can be adapted to suit location.

However, for bioplastics to become mainstream, there are many challenges to overcome. One example Caroline mentions is the possible food allergies linked to some bioplastics’ raw materials, with some ingredients containing gluten for example, having a negative affect on individuals with coeliac disease.

In conclusion, the real issue is our single-use society. The most effective and sustainable way to move forward would be to reduce and reuse certain products and materials, with bioplastics acting as an alternative option only when reusing items is unachievable – ie the medical industry.

Read it here.

Research Residency Wrap-Up: Sneha Solanki

Sneha Solanki is an alumnus of our research residency programme. She is from the A to Z Unit, a “culinary research facility with a mission to map, investigate and interact with food systems and ecologies.” During her time at Green Lab, Sneha worked on her MICRO_FOOD project through which she is building a library of micro-organisms. Sneha believes that micro-organisms need to be acknowledged for their hard work which often goes uncredited in our food systems. Sneha developed extensive diagrams and maps of the library, focussing around the themes of Infrastructure, Interchange and Exchange. In her preliminary research, Sneha adopted a multi-disciplinary approach and spoke to experts in each one of her 3 grand themes.

  • Exchange – Sneha collaborated with Kate Rich from Feral Trade (an art project/grocery business experiment). “Kate offered thoughts on workable and sustainable economic methods and models whilst also discussing scale. A project of this nature doesn’t offer the usual economic ethos of ‘scale’ or ‘scaling-up’ but does offer one where scale moves in a horizontal or a ‘network’ format.”
  • Interchange – Sneha spoke with participatory artist and consultant Alexia Mellor about the design of the library. Conversations included working towards a travelling library which could reach the “commons”, a DIWO approach (‘do it with others’) and how library might translate into a workshop setting.
  • Infrastructure – Sneha worked with Dr. Sarah Jayne Boulton, a Biomedical Sciences Researcher from the University of Newcastle with an interest in stress pathways and energy generation in cells. Together, they discusses food safety procedures – especially in terms of fermentation which “can be seen as a process of ‘spoiloing’ and stressed the accountability of maintaining, storing and distributing micro-organisms and microbial food/beverage items.”

Over the course of her residency, Sneha also visited BrewLab and learned how to sequence microbial DNA to generate precise for the library knowledge about which micro-organisms are present in samples.

In the meantime, Sneha spent a lot of her time at the Lab fermenting Egyptian Kombucha using hibiscus tea and experimenting with long term storage of yogurt cultures.

Sneha also benefitted from conversations with fellow Green Lab residents Pilar Bolumburu and Zoë Powell from Materiom. Sneha writes, “We had a ‘library’ to ‘library’ conversation including looking at the concept of a library, interfacing elements digitally, tool hacking to make infrastructure more accessible and less wasteful, and we also spoke about future ‘library’ to ‘library’ collaborations.”

We look forward to more updates from Sneha as her MICRO_FOOD library continues to expand! You can find out more about her work here.

Sneha plans on returning to Green Lab in Autumn 2019 to lead a workshop. Please drop us a line at grow@greenlab.org to register your interest.

 

 

How to mitigate agriculture’s contribution to climate change?

https://www.farminguk.com/images/News/48918_1.jpg

Image: www.farminguk.com

Our friends at the Green Alliance think tank just produced a new report that caught our attention: Cutting the climate impact of land use. It got us thinking on how we can mitigate the agricultural sector’s contribution to climate change.

Green Alliance highlighted how urgent transformation is in this sector: “action must be taken now to reduce emissions and lay the foundations for the longer term transformation required.” The report also looks at land use as an opportunity area: “in the often overlooked land use sector, the UK now has an unprecedented chance to set a clear course and accelerate the pace of change.”

Here are some (amongst many) of the interesting approaches to change agricultural practice proposed in the report:

  • Afforestation: Green Alliance estimates that we need to be planting at least 70,000 hectares of new woodland per year (that’s almost twice the area of Sheffield).
  • Diet: The trend towards healthier diets needs to be accelerated, reducing red meat and dairy consumption by at least 30 per cent by 2030.
  • Sequestering carbon: This can be done by focussing on agroforestry and the improvement of salt marshes, woodlands, peatlands and wetlands. Using more wood in construction, also provides long term storage for carbon sequestered in trees.
  • Bioenergy crops: Crops such as Miscanthus and short rotation coppice willow are low-cost and low-maintenance and can be used to make bioenergy.
  • Biochar: Similar to charcoal, biochar is formed by thermal decomposition in a limited oxygen environment. It can store carbon in the soil for extended periods while improving soil fertility and quality.
  • Manure management changes: Innovative techniques such as treating manure using anaerobic digestion can be effective.
  • Improving soil management: Measures include the controlled use of nitrogen fertilisers to match inputs to field conditions more closely; increased use of organic residues, such as livestock manures and digestate from the processing of food wastes and crops; and more cultivation of legumes, which fix nitrogen in the soil and reduce the need for fertilisers.”

And (if you’re not convinced already): “If we get it right, there are many benefits beyond reducing emissions. Many of the measures to decarbonise land use will also contribute to greater soil protection, improved water and soil quality, flood mitigation, biodiversity and recreational benefits, and they will support a more productive and resilient food system and greater societal wellbeing. UK farmers and land managers will be central agents in cutting emissions from land use and will also benefit from low carbon practices. But policy needs to support them through this transition, providing the incentives to innovate and adopt new measures, and ensuring that best practice is supported by consumers and supply chains.”

A good read. Find it here.

 

 

Open source robot arm to extrude organics – Research resident Andreea Bunica

Open source robot arm to extrude organics
 
Andreea began her research residency here at the Lab in March and is using the opportunity to research across the disciplines of biology, robotics and responsive growing in relation to her background in architecture. Her broader area of focus is how to successfully print growing bio matter in gel mediums – and to achieve this she has begun to prototype a hobby robot arm that can be optimised to extrude organics.

Prototyping a modified robot arm

Andreea is working towards creating her own fully open-source, affordable tool kit for a robot arm that extrudes organics, with the hope that it will be more affordable and accessible than current options. This will allow a wider and more diverse audience to engage with robotic fabrication.

To achieve this she is currently using the Fab Lab at Green Lab to study existing robotic systems, design and protoype 3D printing files and laser cut files. By studying the existing Dobot desk arm that we have at the lab she is redesigning the robot frame and firmware code to do the following:

  • Incorporate a syringe organics extruder
  • Provide stability and accuracy through low cost fabricated PLA parts and lasercut pieces
  • Incorporate an Android app-controlled robot functionality

We have documented the process of Andreea’s first iteration of her prototype robot hobby arm to extrude organics on our wiki – where you can follow a step by step guide of the project to date.

You can also follow her progress throughout the residency on her website

Green Lab Wiki

Kombucha Leather – Research Resident Riina Oun

Kombucha leather

Riina is a designer and maker of hand-crafted leather gloves and a material researcher currently pursuing her Masters of Arts in Material Futures at Central Saint Martins UAL. During her research residency at Green Lab Riina is searching for a biological leather substitute suitable to use for making gloves. She is currently researching kombucha SCOBY (the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast), grown on the surface of the beverage, with the goal of developing it into the ultimate vegan leather substitute material.

Coming from a design background with a focus on leather accessories, Riina is looking for new alternative material options that retain the positive qualities leather offers. Kombucha leather is relevant as a potential alternative to animal leather, whilst avoiding man-made oil-based fake “vegan” leather. Riina would like to contribute into developing a leather replacement material that is sustainable with minimal impact to the environment and that can be easily reproduced without creating non-biological waste.

kombucha leather samples

During her residency, Riina´s research includes fermenting and growing the kombucha SCOBY in large sizes over several weeks, testing various finishes of processing the SCOBY into a visually appealing, soft and durable material and prototyping “leather” fashion accessories to test their wearability.

www.riinao.com

Algae Cutlery – Research Resident Midushi Kochhar

Agar samples

Midushi is a product designer and material researcher who is pursuing her master’s degree in Industrial Design at Central Saint Martins UAL. For her 12 week research residency here at the lab she is using her material driven approach to concoct sustainably derived materials from the sea and wasteful everyday resources and translate them into commercial products.

For her initial research she has been using Agar- Agar which is derived from red algae. Agar has been used in the medical industry for a number of years due to its nutrient content but more recently designers are starting to explore it’s potential as a bioplastic. With the growing concern over single use plastic, Midushi aims to tackle this issue, focusing in on single-use cutlery she is exploring how to make biodegradable tableware to help eradicate this pollution phenomena.

She is currently exploring various recipes and composite options to make the most durable material – mixing agar- agar with various available food waste such as egg shell powder, pea pods and beetroot peels. She has also added ingredients including red chili powder, turmeric, charcoal and gram flour to understand the various properties these substances can provide.

By developing mundane but functional objects such as disposable cutlery, Midushi hopes to bring about acceptance and popularity towards a new aesthetic thus opening up the possibilities of producing more biodegradable short life products that won’t last forever and pollute our natural world.

FIND OUT MORE

MYCHROME PROJECT – research resident Valentina Dipietro

mycelium samples

Valentina Dipietro is a material designer and researcher about to complete her MA in Textiles at the Royal College of Art. She is currently undertaking a 12 week research residency here at the lab, utilising our developing material lab to experiment with mycelium materials with an outcome to make them viable for products and interiors.

Her project, Mychrome (from mycelium and khrôma –atos, “colour” in ancient greek), is based on material circularity and usage of waste to supply a need for a radically sustainable range of materials for design which are compostable, but at the same time, desirable.

mycelium textures

Mycelium is the vegetative part of the mushroom and it can grow on different varieties of agricultural waste. The material fully colonises the waste in the span of two weeks from inoculation while in the right environmental conditions and it presents advantageous physical properties, as it is fire resistant as well as temperature and sound insulating. At the end of its life span it can be re-introduced in the environment as an agricultural fertilizer.

During her residency she will experiment on how to incorporate colour and waste at incubation level, experimenting with different varieties of fungi (Pleurotus Ostreatus, Ganoderma Lucidum or Fomes Fomentarius), as well as multiple waste substrates like straw, wood chips, sawdust and hemp. Combining them with natural pigments obtained from wine waste, she aims to create textural materials and, at the same time, experiment with a range of natural finishes in the realms of natural resins, agar and wax.

Find out more

Green Lab x Materiom collaboration

Green Lab X Materiom

Materiom have taken residence in the lab for our Green Lab X Materiom collaboration. Zoe Powell and Pilar Bolumburu are both material researchers and workshop facilitators from Materiom and they will be spending the next few months working with us and helping to develop our Material Lab and Library.

Materiom:

‘Materiom is an open platform for materials experimentation and development for a circular economy. We believe this multidisciplinary and collaborative approach is the key to unlocking a 21st century materials economy that is regenerative by design.
Working at the intersection of design, material science and ecology, the Materiom platform and its community are using open source data and technology to unlock a circular materials economy that is regenerative by design.’

Material Lab:

The material lab is going to be a bookable space for material lab members to use. The space is ideal for material research and development that can’t be conducted at home but that doesn’t need a bio lab. With stainless steel work benches and equipment ranging from what you would find in your kitchen to more advanced lab equipment the space is ideal for messy work.

During our collaboration Materiom will also help us develop a material library, showcasing future sustainable materials alongside more traditional examples. The library will be a space for students, researchers, buyers and industry to come and explore alternative possibilities. Located next to the lab, the library will also connect viewers with researchers making these alternative options, creating a unique space for collaboration.

At our next #openhouse evening on Thursday 28th February we will be launching our material lab and running some material workshops – come along to meet with the Material Lab team and Materiom.

GET TICKETS

FARM491 AgriTech Bootcamp at Green Lab

FARM491

Green Lab is excited to be hosting FARM491’s Inspiring AgriTech Innovation Boot camp on 8th & 9th April.

The two day bootcamp is for AgriFood and AgriTech startups looking to take the next steps to define their business model and become investor ready. Farm491 specialises in helping turn technology ideas into viable and scalable businesses.

The workshops provide an opportunity for startups to understand the next steps they need to take ‘in order to increase their technology readiness and progress their business. The two days are very practical, entailing one-to-one business support, as well as group discussions, zoning in on the value proposition, and helping every attendee get investor ready.’

What is Farm491?

‘Farm491 is an AgriTech specialist taking technology ideas and helping them turn into viable and scalable businesses, using our extensive knowledge of agriculture, our association with the Royal Agriculture University, and our network of partners. Farm491 received grant funding from the European Regional Development Fund to run free two-day workshops, where we engage with each entrepreneur, and welcome continued engagement after the bootcamp to ensure the companies receive enough support.’

APPLY NOW

Download PDF for more info

or email grow@greenlab.org