A leather and plastic alternative made of seaweed

Anna Watkins, a student at the University of Huddersfield in the UK, developed a seaweed based material that aims to replace materials like leather and plastic.

The aim of the project was to create a biomaterial to replace the often unsustainable materials used in fashion.

The main ingredient is powdered seaweed, often used as a gelling agent in food production. By heating this powder, it becomes a jelly-like substance that becomes firm within two minutes. The material can be poured in moulds, allowing for the creation of various products.

Watkins started het project by trying grow mycelium and later making a composite material with industrial textile wool. As she was stuck at home because of the corona lockdown, she turned to seaweed, which can be easily experimented with without the need for a lab.

Using the material, Watkins makes objects including seaweed-bound notebooks, card wallets and lampshades. With her start-up Uncommon Alchemy, she received a 5,000 pound grant by winning a Young Innovator award from the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN).

Photos: University of Huddersfield