The Essence of Biocement
Biocement is produced by stimulating thousands of bacteria to form solid structures: In presence of urea and calcium chloride, the bacterium Sporosarcina pasteurii is connecting granulated building waste with calcium carbonate. Neither a firing process and thus a lot of energy is required nor CO2 is emitted in the production process. The combination of biofabrication and digital tools enables the material to be formed in a completely new way. In the project, Friedrich Gerlach and Julia Huhnholz explored the key functional and aesthetic potentials of the new material. Ultimately, they have translated them into a seating furniture, serving as an object of knowledge.
Biocement Chair. Being the first of it’s kind, this one-to-one chair makes Biocement physically tangible. The seating object consists of three profiles, which have been manufactured individually. Put together, they are forming the Biocement chair. Designing and fabricating a piece of furniture has been the key step of translating the laboratory material system into an applied typology. The aim is to make research accessible through design and thus to provide a basis for other experts.
3D Printed Formwork. The research involved setting up a biocement processing apparatus and developing a 3D printed formwork system. By automating and constantly improving the self-made machine, it became possible to effectively produce various design specimen and prototypes with the new material.
Waste Based Material. The artificial limestone is a sustainable alternative to conventional, mineral building material. Biocement is formed by MICP (Microbial Induced Calcite Precipitation), instead of heat and a lot of energy. Eliminating the burning process also saves carbon dioxide emissions. Instead of sand, second life resources, such as granulated bricks, are processed by the product designers. As other research shows, even urea and the nutrients necessary for the bacteria can be collected from various waste streams, such as human urine or leftovers from cheese production (Lambert, S.E., Randall, D.G. (2019). Manufacturing bio-bricks using microbial induced calcium carbonate precipitation and human urine. Water Research, 158–166).