- story by MaterialDistrict
Potato scraps have a new purpose at sea
Dutch marine biologists recycle potato waste into mats that they use for nature restoration, like salt marshes, reefs and seagrass meadows. These Biodegradable Elements for Starting Ecosystems, or BESE-elements®, consist of stackable layers that build up into a biodegradable matrix structure. The modular design combines porosity with a complex structure. In a way it resembles the well-known building blocks: a clickable design with endless possibilities. Now, worldwide applications for nature restoration have been set up with the material.
The modules serve as a starting point: a temporary structure that provides adhesion, stability and protection for organisms, both plants and animals. After a while, nature can take over and the material can slowly break down.
The structure was awarded the first prize of the Circular Innovation Challenge (2018) and Jan Terlouw Innovation Price (2020).
The material consists of single layers, that are stackable for transport and can then be clicked together on site. The clicked layers form a complex 3-dimensional structure, with a large surface-area and many cavities. The renewable raw material, Solanyl, is biodegradable, carbon neutral and non-toxic.
The material is designed for modular assembly and installation, allowing for different combinations, structure heights and dimensions depending on the needs (Fig 1). The basic element is a rectangle of approximately 0.455 x 0.922 meter. The number of layers and the shape are adjusted to the desired location, application or type of restoration needed. The color can be adjusted as desired with a biodegradable dye.
The material is made from Solanyl, a renewable raw material consisting of a mixture of biopolymers. An important component that has been used as raw material consists of potato residues from the French fry industry. The material complies with TUV OK Compost.