Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and their Nano4Design workshop

A Jan. 12, 2013 news item on Nanowerk highlights some of the projects and materials presented at the Nov. 29, 2012 Nano4Design workshop held at Saint Martins College of Art and Design. But first, here’s more about the workshop before it was presented, from the workshop description on the IOM3 (Institute of Materials, Minerals, and Mining) website,

Sustainability is now a key driver in product design. Sustainability includes: reducing environmentally harmful emissions during processing, avoiding the use of toxic and scarce resources, using  sustainable materials, designing-in recyclability and re-use, and environmental remediation such as carbon capture.

Sponsored by and hosted at Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, this workshop is a must-attend for all product designers looking for new sustainable technologies – a unique opportunity to hear new ideas, network with peers and meet technology providers.

This workshop is for designers, materials scientists, and engineers developing or looking for  sustainable solutions in product design. Application markets are diverse, from architecture to cars, aircraft to fashion, and electronic devices to alternative technology.

Speakers include:

• Harnessing Nanotechnology to Combat Climate Change for the Built Environment – Carole Collet, Textile Futures Research Centre, Central St Martins

• Inkjet Printing for Novel Solar Control – Brian Hughes, Solaveil

• Plastic Electronics for Tagging, Sensing and Energy – Richard Kirk, Polyphotonics

• Nanocellulose – A Sustainable Alternative – Prof Mizi Fan, Brunel University

• Novel Materials for Thermal Control – Zafer Ure, PCM Products

• Surface Regeneration for Buildings – Alessia Giardino, Textile & Surface Designer

• TSB Funding Call “New Designs for a Circular Economy” – John Whittall, Technology Strategy Board

The news item on Nanowerk provides more information about specific materials and projects discussed at Nano4Design,

Iceclay

An alternative nanostructured clay aerogel that is cost-effective and ultra- lightweight is being developed through an EU consortium. The ICECLAY project aims to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs by creating a new generation of low-cost and efficient insulation materials for the EU building construction industry.

Pros: The production of the material and its integrated composites will use water and eco-friendly or soluble/dispersible low-cost polymers and a cost-effective freeze-drying process. The ICECLAY material has a highly porous structure and reduced thickness.

Application: The thermal insulation material is designed for highly energy efficient buildings, retrofit and advanced HAVC systems.

Thin and flexible lightweight ICECLAY boards or films could also offer a cheaper alternative to high-performance insulation materials such as the supercritical-dried silica aerogel. The powderbased ICECLAY will be used as thermal insulation fillers for a broad range of building products, including concrete, drywalls, bricks, plaster and coatings.

The project will be completed in 2014. If you are interested in taking part in the ongoing group, visit the ICECLAY project website.

Nanocellulose hemp fibres

The Forest Products Laboratory branch of the US Forest Service has given a grant of US$1.7m to a pilot plant that will work on the production of cellulose nanocrystals. It is estimated that the plant will contribute US$600bln to the US economy by 2020.

Pros: This material out-toughs both carbon fibre and Kevlar while still being lightweight and is renewable and cheap to produce. Applications are far-reaching due to its optical, thermal and electronic properties, and can range from strengthening agents in paper manufacture to coating additives and barrier materials for packaging. While not a new material, investigations into wider applications are underway, such as in boards, walls, floors, coatings and retrofitting or building panels.

Professor Mizi Fan, who leads a nanocellulose research group at Brunel University, comments, ‘Its strength is comparable to aluminium and it has a strong surface area and high aspect ratio, so it can be easily combined with materials such as clay. Another benefit is that 25% of its mass is already nanostructured.’

Challenges: Moisture. The next step is to improve the material’s hydrophobic properties through surface engineering.

Polluted patterns

Textile and surface design graduate at Central Saint Martins, Alessia Giardino, has created an environmentally adaptive architectural solution that replicates nature by using living organisms to create surfaces that are ‘responsive, informative and decorative’.

Concrete Lace (pictured below [sic]) is a combination of concrete, organic materials, nanotechnology and textile techniques that can be used to regenerate urban and domestic environments. The base material is a concrete tile processed through photocatalytic cement, an innovative, sustainable technology containing TiO2.

‘The TiO2 reacts with light and so is able to break down pollution in the air, while purifying it,’ says Giardino. The TiO2 is applied using serigraphy printing, traditionally used in graphics and textiles. The parts that are protected by the TiO2 maintain a clean surface and prevent ageing and yellowing, while the uncovered surface turns into a catalyst for polluting substances and forms a pattern, making these surfaces look more appealing.’ Giardino is now seeking research and commercial partners to take the technology to market and test the technology on other substrates.

The cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) mentioned in the 2nd project description (excerpted from the news item) are also known as nancrystalline cellulose (NCC). The most fully realized of the projects (from the three excerpted from the news item) is Polluted patterns (from Alessia Giardino’s website)

Polluted patterns
Conceived as an artistic response to the problem of urban decay and working on the ethos of re-appropriation of negative aspects of the city, ‘Polluted Patterns’ emerge from the surface grime by selective cleaning technologies, creating a sort of ‘Living Wall’. Light-sensitive photo catalytic white cement or paint, have been screen printed to create ‘negative’ or ‘invisible’ motifs, that gradually become visible over time, as pollutants discolor the area of the surface not protected by these technologies. That section becomes catalyst of air bones pollutants, while the nanotechnology breaks down pollutants in the air though preserving the surface from their deposition.

Wrapped door
Pollution is defining a lace-like pattern assumed as metaphor of the poisoned air wrapping buildings, cities, everyday environment and affecting people health. Beyond is decorative aspect, is showing the increasing level of poor air quality we breath.

From Polluted Patterns slideshow on Alessia Giardino's website (http://www.alessiagiardino.com/pattern.html)

From Polluted Patterns slideshow on Alessia Giardino’s website (http://www.alessiagiardino.com/pattern.html)

Giardino’s work is being sponsored by Surface (from their home page),

Surface is a company specifically created to cater to the needs of the innovation hungry architectural and interior design community.

We call ourselves Surface because that’s what we supply.Bespoke surfaces.

At Surface, we gather together the most exciting, fresh and beautiful surface technologies and designs from across the globe into a one-stop destination website for those looking for the ultimate stand-out feature for their projects.

It seems the gamut at the November 2012 workshop ranged from work which is very much at the research stage (Iceclay) to materials which are being produced in pilot plants (CNC) to a product being readied for commercialization (Polluted patterns).

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