Biotechnology is the key technology of the 21st century. But where do we want it to lead to? The microbes projects by industrial design students at Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle dealt with the questions of living production and products – focussing on biomineralisation as a natural production and construction process and algae as a resource and production platform.
The first project is focused on biomineralisation, meaning organisms that are able to create minerals. The main difference and also advantage of biomineralisation, in comparison to the geological and technical way of producing minerals, is that neither high temperature nor pressure are necessary. Also, biominerals grow into well-defined structures and composites with extreme properties. On the other hand, completely new challenges arise from working with living organisms and the concept of growth. We conducted explorative experiments with the bacterium Bacillus pasteurii, which produces calcium carbonate, to answer questions such as: How can we make use of their adaptability, resilience, and their fast reproduction? Which processes and products can be realized at the present time? What consequences will microbial production have on consumer-interaction in the future?
Algae are known as an unpleasant occurrence inside aquariums, as an annoying algae bloom at popular coastal resorts, maybe also as an integral part of nutrition in some cultures, but still they are an almost unused resource – despite their incredible variety and their ability to grow much faster than land plants without competing with other foodstuff. Some algae even bind heavy metals, others can provide important minerals or biofuels, or even produce tailor-made plastics from carbon dioxide in the air with solar energy. The second microbes project dealt with the question: how can we make use of this valuable raw material and not only substitute materials and products with algae but create new applications, qualities, characteristics and usage scenarios? In order to explore this question and provide innovative answers, exploratory experiments were performed alongside intensive discussions with various experts.