Seaweed Could Be the Key to a Sustainable World, Researchers Say

Sunlight streams through leaves of giant kelp

The ocean has marveled scientists for centuries, and recently, Australian researchers have been looking at seaweed as a way to save the planet. The consequences of climate change are very real and very dangerous, and finding sources of sustainable energy, including food and fuel, has been a number one priority for researchers. It turns out the answer might just be right off the shore of Australia.

Seaweed Is Rich In Nutrients & Has a Unique Molecular Structure

Researchers have found that kelp and other types of seaweed can be an effective means to fight climate change. According to Dr. Pia Winberg, seaweed can become as important to civilization as nitrogen, lumber, wheat, and plastic if it’s properly harvested. That reasoning is based on the rich nutrient profile and molecular structure of seaweed species.

Due to its fast growth and ability to absorb carbon at incredibly quick rates (even faster than terrestrial plants), seaweed can be used in a myriad of ways. By farming it on a large scale, we can use kelp and its cousins to balance emissions, add a new farming branch, deacidify the oceans, and even look into new materials research.

A Promising Model for the Future

Fresh seaweed salad Incorporating seaweed not only in our diet but also in our agriculture cycles can be a gamechanger for our future, says Winberg. According to a recent study, if just 3.8% of California’s coastal waters are dedicated to kelp cultivation, it will be enough to absorb the emissions from its agriculture sector. The good news is that many people and businesses are already utilizing seaweed’s incredible qualities in their lives and work.

To Winberg and her colleagues, offshore seaweed cultivation in Australia is one of the best ways to show the benefits of large-scale kelp farming and all it can do to improve our collective future.

Pyrus – A Wood Alternative Wins 2021 Dyson Award

Gabe Tavas – This year’s Amerian James Dyson Award winner is waging war against deforestation head first with his synthetic wood invention Pyrus. His mission is simple – don’t cut down trees to make wood.

Using Design to Save the Rainforest

Gabe, in his quest to save nature, found a way to strike a balance between nature and design. He came up with a way to create wood by using bacterial cellulose. Bacterial cellulose is the core component of wood. He managed to successfully use that to create an alternative material – the property of his invention inmates exotic woods found in the Amazon Rainforest.

How Exactly Did He Manage to Create Pyrus?

Gabe broke down two essential components of any wood – cellulose, and Lignin. Cellulose provides the basic shape, while Lignin acts as a glue. Gabe managed to use kombucha waste to create wood. Kombucha companies use microorganisms that produce cellulose on top of the liquid. To create Pyrus – Tava blended the sheets of cellulose to an even consistency. He then embedded them into a gel. Once the gel dries, the structure hardens and is then placed under a mechanical press – this press forms a wood-like material. And just like wood – this material too can be sanded, cut, and coated with resins.

How Is This Different From Other Wood Alternatives?

True, there are many companies that are creating wood alternatives, then how does Pyrus stand out from the rest? The answer is sawdust. Companies use sawdust to create wood-like material. And while it is a good option to reuse the already existing wood, slowing down deforestation – using sawdust still requires chopping of trees. Pyrus, on the other hand, completely eradicates the need for chopping wood. Apart from that, sawdust imposes some serious health risks to those workers who are over-exposed to it – in some cases; it can even lead to cancer.

Not only does using Pyrus save the forest – there are no dangerous oils being used for its creation – ensuring no health risk to its creators.