Page 1

FRONT COVER - IMAGE

Material Research and Growth Experimentation:

The Biorock Book MArch Design Project Richard James Breen Unit 16


Material Research and Growth Experimentation:

The Biorock Book MArch Design Project Richard James Breen Unit 16


Introduction This book was created to document my interest and research into Biorock as a material practice and architectural approach. The book explores the work of Wolf Hilbertz and others interested in the potential of this grown material and the notions of growing architecture. The book documents my own specific research and experimentation with electrolysis and mineral accretion - to better my understanding of the growth process and the qualities of the material. This research was pursued in support of my design proposal for the growth of a Biorock bridge - to ground my ambitions and embed my project in research and experimentation.

“Preliminary investigations indicate that the mineral accretion process produces a very suitable substrate for marine growth and, at the same time, a strong primary building material.� (W. Hillbertz, 1979: p.6)


Contents External Research Associated Research Practical Experimentation Digital Experimentation

5


EXTERNAL

R

E

S

E

A

6

R

C

H


Biorock Benefits - July 2014 by Thomas J. Goreau, PhD President, Biorock Technology Inc.

“The BIOROCK® process uses electrically conductive materials like ordinary steel, the cheapest and most widely used construction material, to build structures of any size or shape in the sea. During the BIOROCK® process the steel is completely protected from corrosion. Rusty steel is first un-rusted as red rust quickly turns grey and black and is converted back to iron. Then the structure turns white as limestone minerals that are naturally dissolved in seawater grow over the surface, producing a constantly growing hard rock coating. When grown slowly (less than 1-2 centimetres per year) this material is around three times stronger than concrete made from ordinary Portland cement. The BIOROCK® process produces the only marine construction material that gets stronger and harder with age. It is also the only marine construction material that is self-repairing: if the mineral layer is broken, the damaged area grows back first. All other marine construction materials deteriorate with age and eventually need to be removed and replaced. BIOROCK® structures save money by never needing replacement, and are many times cheaper to build than concrete or rock structures of the same size. They can easily be added onto later or changed to meet evolving needs. BIOROCK® cements grown from salt water under different conditions are even harder after they set than primary BIOROCK® materials. Moreover they actually absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as they set (Portland cement manufacture produces about 5-10% as much CO2 as fossil fuel combustion), and can be cheaper than cement in many places”.

8


Mineral accretion sample grown electrolytically over only two years.

9


PROCESS

10


Professor. Wolf Hilbertz

Architect and Marine Scientist Hilbertz found that under low electrical current conditions he could grow extremely hard calcium carbonate limestone deposits, made up of crystals of the mineral aragonite, the same compound that makes up coral skeletons and the bulk of tropical white sand beaches. Marine Electrolysis for Building Materials and Environmental Restoration 275 Higher currents caused the growth of the mineral brucite, or magnesium hydroxide, which is soft and tends to easily break off. Through experimentation it proved possible to grow rock-hard limestone coatings of any desired thickness on steel frames of any desired shape or size, at up to 1-2 cm per year, with compressive (load-bearing) strength up to 80 Newtons per square millimetre (MegaPascals), or about three times the strength of concrete made from ordinary Portland Cement. • • • • • • •

Accretion occurs at cathode building up a protective layer - which can be self-repairing if current is continuous 3x greater load bearing strength of concrete when grown slowly 1.5-3 volts Porosity of 20% - lighter material - hydrogen created pockets enables continued accretion - documented up to 30cm of growth around cathode Hydrogen gas produced at the cathode - can be captured for energy use Oxygen produced at the anode provides organisms in surrounding areas with this essential element and acts to reduce anoxia and dead zones in the ocean. Low cost - main component is steel which is the cheapest and most available construction material - cost variations dependant on electricity costs - yet low voltages can be generated on site by renewable sources Structural components and frameworks can be grown or cements can be produced for casting in moulds for bricks

11


Marine Electrolysis for Building Materials Thomas J. Goreau 2012 Chemical Mechanisms Anode - Water is broken down to produce oxygen gas and hydrogen ion making the local environment oxidising and acidic - anode requires replacement

2H2O = O2 + 4H+ + 4e¯ Cathode - Water is broken down to make hydrogen gas and hydroxyl ion, making the local environment both alkaline and reducing:

4H2O + 4e¯ = 2H2 + 4OH¯ Net Reaction - Satisfying charge and PH balance: 6H2O = 2H2 + O2 + 4H+ + 4 OH¯ Chemical Production Anode - Hydrogen ions produced at the anode dissolve in the water until they react with limestone sediments in surrounding areas and are neutralized:

H+ + CaCO3 = Ca++ + HCO3¯ Cathode - hydroxyl ions produced at the cathode are rapidly consumed by precipitation of limestone directly on the cathode surface:

Ca++ + HCO¯3 + OH¯ = CaCO3 + H2O The net reaction is neutral with regard to pH and alkalinity and hence to ocean CO2 content and acidification (Hilbertz, 1992). As anode can dissolve - non-toxic metal or non-corrodible metal should be used

Overcharging the Cathode Causes precipitation of brucite Mg(OH)2 as opposed to argonite CaCO3. Similar white appearance but is flaky and can dissolve in normal PH seawater. Because at high current densities direct brucite precipitation removes hydroxyl ion without converting bicarbonate to carbonate ion, it also reduces the amount of CO2 produced by limestone deposition:

Ca++ + 2HCO3¯ = CaCO3 + H2O + CO2

12


Brucite crystals grown on Biorock. Scanning electron micrograph by Noreen Buster, US Geological Survey.

Mixture of Brucite crystals (rosettes) and Aragonite crystals (elongated needles). Scanning electron micrograph by Noreen Buster, US Geological Survey.

13


Marine Electrolysis for Building Materials Thomas J. Goreau 2012 Chemical Efficiency When one balances the chemical and charge equations, and assuming that all the hydroxyl ions produced by electrolysis of water are neutralized by limestone deposition, one gets 3.7 grams of calcium carbonate per amp hour of electricity. To calculate the efficiency as yield per watt one must assume a voltage. The Jamaica experiments were done at 1.5 volts, and the Cuban ones at 6 volts. The lower the voltage is (as long as it is above the minimum voltage of 1.23V for electrolysis of water and ignoring junction potentials) the more efficient the process is). For standard solar panels at 17 volts, only around 7% of the potential energy is used, and nearly 93% is wasted. VOLTAGE (VOLTS) 1.23 1.5 3 6 12 17

EFFICIENCY (PERCENT) 100 82 41 20.5 10.25 7.24

If we assume that the yield is 1 Kg/KWh and that electricity costs from $.03 to $.30 per KWh, the electrical cost of the materials produced ranges from $.03-.30/Kg. This would be highly competitive with cement in many places where transport of cement affects the local cost, especially in small islands surrounded by the sea where cement is expensive because of transport costs.

Higher Current Densities By applying higher current densities, mineral production can be readily switched from calcium carbonate to magnesium hydroxide. This material can be cast in moulds to form bricks and blocks or other shapes, and we have done so successfully. Brucite can be readily converted into magnesium carbonate cements by absorbing CO2 and these are even harder than calcium carbonate.

Mg (OH)2 + CO2 = MgCO3 + H2O

14


Mineral accretion sample from Maldives which was grown electrolytically during only five years.

15


Professor. Wolf Hilbertz

Architect and Marine Scientist Hilbertz studied architecture at the University of the Arts in Berlin,at the University of Michigan, and at Louisiana State University. He worked at architectural offices in Berlin, New York and Detroit. His academic affiliations as an environmental educator and researcher have included The University of Texas, where he also held an appointment as Sr. Research Scientist in Marine Sciences. He founded and directed The Responsive Environment Laboratory (SU) and the Symbiotic Processes Laboratory (UT). He authored several US and international patents, the most environmentally important one together with Dr. T. Goreau. Hilbertz laid down the foundation for the discipline of Cybertecture, emergent allencompassing evolutionary environmental systems, and invented/developed the mineral accretion process in seawater. The development of Biorock Technology evolved from Goreau/ Hilbertz cooperation in Jamaica. The duo publicly introduced the notion and basic framework of a new up and coming profession: Seascape Architecture, a younger sister of the venerable design discipline aptly named Landscape Architecture. Installing, maintaining, and monitoring projects in many countries together with his partner of twenty years, Tom Goreau, and with the help of a host of dedicated associates, students, and volunteers he designed and implemented seascaping projects focusing on coral conservation / fish habitat, mariculture, and erosion control, whenever possible with direct local government or community involvement and participation. Production of building materials and components, metals, minerals and gases from seawater, direct or indirect solar energy conversion, sustainable brine utilization and model seacology artificial/natural islands like the Autopia Saya Project in the Indian Ocean initiated in1997, were ongoing projects and concerns.

Images and text from: http://www.wolfhilbertz.com/autobiography.html

16


CURRENT USES

17


Coral Restoration

Prof. Wolf Hilbertz and Prof. Tom Goreau BIOROCK® technology is the only sustainable method of protecting coral reefs from mass extinction from global warming. Every coral reef region of the world has already suffered from severe high temperature coral bleaching and mortality, and any further warming will destroy the little coral that is left. Corals growing on BIOROCK® reefs have 1600% to 5000% times higher survival after severe bleaching than corals on nearby reefs. There is no other method known to protect corals from global warming, which is worsening as governments fail to reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases. BIOROCK® Coral Arks, designed to save coral reef species from local extinction, are currently growing around 80% of all the coral reef genera in the world. There is an urgent need to establish them in all major reef areas and include all coral reef species, as this may be the only hope when global warming intensifies. BIOROCK® coral reefs turn barren dead and dying areas into pristine reefs swarming with fishes in a few years, even where natural recovery is impossible. All other coral reef restoration methods work well only under perfect water quality conditions (but BIOROCK® grows coral 2-­‐‑10 times faster), but all fail when water becomes too hot, muddy, or polluted. BIOROCK® corals continue to thrive when others die, and BIOROCK® reefs cost less than other methods. BIOROCK® technology greatly accelerates coral settlement, growth, healing, survival, and resistance to environmental stresses such as high temperature, sediment, and pollution. All other marine organisms examined also benefit. These amazing results happen because the BIOROCK® process creates the ideal biophysical conditions that all forms of life use to make biochemicalenergy. This also has enormous implications for medicine and agriculture that we will develop.

18


19


Tourism through Restoration

20


Self Repairing Material - for Piers and Sea Defence Walls

21


Sustainable Farming and Aquaculture

CURRENT USES - sustainable aquaculture

22


23


EXAMPLE OF GROWTH

E

X

P

E

R

I

M

E

N

T

S


Experiment at Palm Jumeriah 2004 by Professor Joe Valencic

The experiment was under the direction of Professor Wolf H. Hilbertz, co-founder of Biorock Inc., who invented the mineral accretion process to create structures in seawater. In this technology and our experimental setup, two electrodes are supplied with a low-voltage DC current from a battery charger. Electrolytic reactions at the cathode (a negatively charged electrode) cause minerals naturally present in seawater, primarily calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide, to build up or accrete.

25


26


Experiment Observations Experiment at Palm Jumeriah 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

6.

Very rapid accretion rates that are influenced by the higher than normal salinity of the test area in the Arabian Gulf (45 ppt vs 34 ppt in normal ocean seawater. Fastest growth rates on the pyramid placed closest to the Anode. The closest point anode to cathode was 1.5 feet or approximately 0.5 meters. It was at this point the greatest accretion took place. The accretion on the pyramid closest to the anode (0.5 meters distant) had an accretion rate that was 83% higher than the pyramid located further away (approximately 2.5 meters distant) The diameter of the accretion over the 3/8” steel rebar was 3.89 cm on the pyramid closest to the anode and 2.86 cm on the pyramid further away from the anode. A diamond-shape steel extrusion was welded onto one side of each of the pyramids. The remaining diamond-shaped openings were accreted more heavily on the pyramid closest to the anode with the opening reduced to 1 cm x 3 cm. The remaining diamond-shaped openings were less accreted on the pyramid further away from the anode to an opening size of 2 x 4.5 cm. The hardness of the accretion on the two structures appeared to touch to be of similar hardness. The one exception is the heavily accreted lifting eye at the top of the pyramid closest to the anode. This 7 cm lifting eyehole was accreted such that an opening of only 1 cm occurred on the pyramid closest to the anode and 4 cm on the pyramid distant from the anode. The very heavy accretion on the close pyramid structure broke off upon touch exposing the bare steel structure underneath. Bubbles were observed at the exposed blackened steel indicating the accreting process was continuing.

Conclusion The accretion experiment has successfully demonstrated that not only accretion but also very high accretion rates are possible in the Arabian Gulf where ocean salinities are approximately 30% higher than that of the open ocean. The next logical phase of the test would be to add live corals and monitor their growth rates. This provides documented proof that the accreted structure will bond or “grow” into the reef structure or caprock that it is placed upon.

27


EXAMPLES OF ARCHITECTURAL

E

X

P

E

R

I

M

E

N

T

S


29


University of Texas Symbiotic Process Laboratory

by Professor Wolf Hilbertz, Desmond Fletcher, Carolyn Krausse Experiment at Port Aransas Four large structures were accreated at the location; three double layered arches hung from a flotation rig and prototypical column segment with a diameter of 14’0 and sixty four cubes for compression testing. Concluded that: The potentials of mineral accretion technology for structural application are unlimited; sub-merged and floating tanks, containers for marine organisms, architectural components, segments for floating dams, jetties, breakwaters and current diverters - towable or self-propelled habitats, under and on the sea, could be designed. The potentials are greater when we realise that these ion site structural progresses are reversible; effects upon the logistics, design and energy consumption of structural processes will open up whole new avenues of thought and research. And most important through the development of mineral accretion technologies, as increased knowledge of environmental cycles may allow man “the dominant” to evolve into man “the participant” - stimulating a more emphatic interface between man and the environment. This would be a technology to affirm, rather than negate the intimate and invaluable link between organism and environment. Article and images from: ‘Mineral Accretion Technology: Applications for Architecture and Aquaculture’ by Desmond Fletcher 1977

30


31


University of Texas Symbiotic Process Laboratory by Professor Wolf Hilbertz Tague Bay, St. Croix In order to devise methods which would allow the solid accretion of a three-dimensional cathode, the “onion” experiment was devised. This cathodic cube consisted of seven insulated layers of t” galvanized hardware cloth. Immersed in sea water containing a lead anode, layer I was connected to the power supply. After sufficient accretion thickness was achieved, layer 2 was connected, and so forth. A solidly accreted cube was obtained [18]. Parts of beach sand volumes, between electrodes, contained in 10-gal tanks and saturated with sea water, were solidified. The results were cemented sheets of sand after flushing of loose sand particles. The water/sand mixtures were kept at a temperature ranging from 78 to 82°F. Power was supplied for 720 h at a rate of 5 Y, 300 mA. During the experiments, fresh sea water was added to replace water lost through evaporation and electrolysis. The clearly discernible “rings” might reflect periods of time under electric power and without power. It cannot be precluded, however, that seasonal changes also might be reflected. 1) Positioning of the anode and cathode connections relative to the cathode surface area has a definite effect on the composition of material accreted in their vicinity and determines the amount of noncrystalline matter enveloped in the accretion matrix. 2) Since the position farthest from either anode or cathode cable connection reached the maximum amount of aragonite, it seems that the greatest electrochemical circuit resistance is developed near the anode and cathode cable connections. If the resistance is greater at these connections, temperature will increase and as a function of temperature, the pH will rise. Thus less favourable conditions to precipitate CaC03exist. 3) Conversely, evolution of O2 at the anode may decrease the pH to an unfavourable state for the precipitation of CaC03, having overcome the initial tendency for temperature/resistance to increase the pH. 4) Peak intensities and breadths from X-ray diffraction analysis reveal very few “perfect” crystals formed. Broadening of the reflections occurs due to the mosaic structure of the mineral crystals, i.e., they are composed of smaller differently oriented blocks of crystals. This broadening could also occur from lack of chemical homogeneity in the specimen. These results would support the conclusion that loosely bound crystalline structure is precipitated through physicochemical reactions of concentration gradients. 5) Considering Fig. 5, it seems that electric migration and/or ionic attraction are also significant the anode/cathode connections. Relative thickness’s (in mm) are/shown at 6” intervals along test strip 1 and 2. Test strip 1 displayed a curve from anode end to cathode connection end: greater thicknesses at both ends and the least in the centre. Test strip 2 displayed another characteristic due to the position of the cathode connection: thicknesses decreased with more distance from the electrical activity at the anode end. 3% 6) It is evident in all cases that the greatest percentage of sample material is brucite (Mg(OH)2)’ It was found in two of its three distinct forms: the platy or foliate type, and massive material. Brucite, in its foliate form, is harder than talc and gypsum, and not elastic; in its massive material form it has a “soapy” appearance. It is possible that some small percentages of the composition consist of portlandite (Ca(OHh), which is isostructural with brucite, but not as yet detected through X-ray diffraction. This is due to concentration and availability of the (OH--) and (C03--) anions at a pH greater than 9.00 at which point brucite is known to precipitate. Fast precipitation of compounds from sea water usually results in brucite of the massive material form; slow precipitation and phasing usually result in brucite with the platy or foliate crystalline structure. Article and images from: Electrodeposition of Minerals in Sea Water: Experiments and Applications 1977 by Wolf Hilbertz

32


33


ARCHITECTURAL

F

U

T

U

R

E

S


35


36


Toward Cybertecture

by Professor Wolf Hilbertz 1970 Cybertecture (CYBERnectics and archiTECTURE) abbreviated to CT, is an attempt to formulate a conceptual framework for an evolutionary environmental system,. The space time continuum us organised ecosytematically, i.e. as it relates to a complex of ecological community and environment forming a functioning whole in nature. The effort is to explore an alternative to the wealth of romanticisms and piecemeal operations which are the generators if the ever increasing chaos of our habitat. All components in nature are in a state of flux, subject to continuous change. The capacity of living systems to organise materials in a complex and determined manner is the characteristic feature of life. CT is structured and performs in a manner analogous to open living systems. Its ‘organised complexity’ does not depend so much upon the number or richness or relations among its elements. The physical components of CT consist of there subsystems: 1. The computer which compares essentially to the brain 2. The material distribution and reclamation which compares to the mechanisms that facilitate metabolism 3. The sensing structure which compares to the body of the living organism CT can be initiated in any kind of environment: above and under earth, under water, or in outer space. But it is evident that CT calls for the socio-political and economic systems radically different from those presently existent. Being a technological system that employs self improving software and hardware it can draw “unorganised” matter into its systems like a seed which becomes a plant. Constantly learning how to adapt itself to changing conditions, CT gradually can enrich its wealth of characteristics of living systems. Then it is only logical that CT can incorporate the whole space-time continuum and evolve to higher and higher levels of organisation. Finally, there is no reason to believe that its artificial intelligence will not surpass the capacity of the human brain bringing forth unknown consequences. But apart from these speculations, CT can serve this, its main purpose: It will create a habitat which, being the result and generator of human activities, is highly responsive to changing needs of the individual as well as society. During the greater part of his evolution, man has had to adapt himself to his environment in order to survive. Cybertecture is a concept to reverse a historical process radically. Article and images from: Toward Cybertecture by Professor Wolf Hilbertz 1970

37


Paul Cuerton - ‘Seaport Interior, After Newton Fallis’ (1970) 2010

38


Videre: Drawing and Evolutionary Architectures by Paul Cureton 2013

Coral bleaching and rising sea temperatures, as well as acidification and the recent devastating Tsunamis’ combined with radioactive discharges, overfishing and lack of education in certain sea communities amongst many other factors make Hilbertz’s endeavours highly provocative and challenging designs and plans to respond to. As Goreau states research into seascape architecture is needed as, protecting coral reefs for future generations may be the truest test of international commitments to sustainable development, because it places some of the most stringent constraints on doing the right thing for the environment.55 A small coral fragment grows anew, likewise the development drawings contained within Hilbertz and Goreau’s scientific papers, and drawings produced in the ‘Symbiotic Process Lab’ on the accretion process, illuminate and move into the visionary- embodying an optimism borne out of collaboration and opportunity within the architectural studio to provide marine landscaping, countering the increasing degradation of the coral ecosystem promoting and educating on the importance of marine biodiversity. It requires a change of thinking for a whole system approach, involving reactive and proactive capabilities, within which humankind has a stake. Similar sentiment is found in Fuller: “Humanity will be re-orientated From its one way entropic Me-first energy wastings To its syntropic circulatory Synergetical you-and-we Cosmic ecology regenerating functions” Article and images from: Videre: Drawing and Evolutionary Architectures 2013

39


Visualisations by Christian Kerrigan

40


Future Venice

Growing a “giant artificial reef ” could stop Venice sinking “Senior University of Greenwich lecturer explains how a synthetic “limestone-like” support structure could be grown underneath Venice to prevent the city’s foundations being eroded. “The future of Venice really rests on its relationship with the tides,” Armstrong explains. “They digest away the fabric of the city. The idea is to create a giant artificial limestone-like reef. This would spread the point load of the city over a much broader base.” Armstrong says such a structure could be grown using protocell technology, an emerging field of synthetic biology, in which cocktails of non-living chemicals are combined to exhibit the properties of living organisms. “What I mean by ‘protocell’ is a group of chemistries that have a very, very simple metabolism,” Armstrong explains. “This allows them to perform as if they were alive.” The protocells Armstrong proposes releasing into the Venetian Lagoon, which she has researched as part of a project called Future Venice, would have two metabolisms. They would be photophobic, so that they move towards the dark foundations of the city and, once there, would react with minerals in the water to accrete the limestone-like material, reinforcing the wood piles the city stands on. Text and images from: http://www.dezeen.com/2014/05/30/movie-rachel-armstrong-future-venice-growing-giant-artificial-reef/

41


42


BioRock Pavilion - Designing with Nature Architecture Foundation Exhibition 2014 Architect: Biologist: BioRock expert: Structural engineer: Theatre consultant :

Exploration Professor Julian Vincent Tom Goreau Arup Charcoal Blue

“The BioRock Pavilion is, in some ways, Exploration’s most ambitious project to date. The proposal is to grow a building through electro-deposition of minerals in seawater (using ‘BioRock’ - patented technology developed by Wolf Hilbertz and Tom Goreau). While numerous designers have achieved grown structures using plants, to the best of our knowledge, this would be the first time that a building had been grown from minerals. The starting point for this project was to use biomimicry to ask a really challenging question which is ‘How would biology solve the problem of climate change?’ One of the clues to this comes from the Vostok ice core data which show how for hundreds of thousands of years atmospheric CO2 and temperature levels varied within steady limits and then went exponential after the industrial revolution”. Text and images from: http://www.exploration-architecture.com/projects/biorock-pavilion

43


ASSOCIATED

R

E

S

E

A

R

C

H


45


46


Experimenting with Electrolysis An abstraction of the water displacement, control and water saving basins of the new Panama Canal Locks. Through an almost scientific experiment level of accuracy, the amount of water with the central chamber can be controlled and changed. The number flasks, demonstrate the ability of the locks to save far more water than the proposed 60%. The system is then developed into a projected dual use infrastructure -whereby water is no longer used simply for transit and trade, but can be activated. This experiment demonstrates a additional prototype that is able to clean oxidised iron objects through the use of electrolysis. This process's ability to function however is still dependant on the water levels. The electrolysis experiment and the submerged object revealed an intriguing and ethereal underwater and industrial environment, of exposed materials and changing states. Here a potential architectural language and environment is beginning to emerge. Here the body of water is being used to clean iron oxide from a redundant object through electrolysis - a process that can up-scaled to industrial levels.

47


48


49


Bio-fouling and Industry of Combating Growth at Balboa Port, Panama City

The build-up of biological material and structures on ship hulls and marine infrastructure time based growth, also dependant on water movement. 'As humans alter the landscape of the Earth and economic globalization expands, biological invasions increasingly homogenize the world's biota. In temperate marine systems, invasions are occurring at a rapid pace, driven by the transfer of organisms by vessels and live trade (including aquaculture and fisheries activities).

50


51


52


Smithsonian Marine Lab

Site Visit to Established Research Base Whilst in Panama we were able to gain access to the Marine Labs that are part of the Smithsonian Research Centre. A wonderful array of materials and methods for controlling, filtering, containing and moving water were used to maintain research chambers holding various marine life, microbes and growths. Use of overhead gangways and water feeders supply the chambers in complex and functional arrangements. A potential program for the canal chambers.

53


BioRock Generation in Panama Developing a Site Specific Generator

Coral Regeneration System: Developing floating installations that can harness the tidal power from the constant movement of passing vessels entering the canal. This power can be used to electrify and activate the specifically constructed biorock structures below. Instead of the shipping industry damaging coral and marine left, they are empowered to help sustain and develop them. The distances between buoys are determined by shipping paths and can power the corals from a great distances.

54


55


56


Early Material Exploration Forming Around a Structure

Mixing up materials to replicate the texture and materiality of the biorock. The mixture includes oyster shell, portland cement and salt crystals. The salt crystals enable variation in texture and the creation of voids, where organisms would be able to grow and thrive. Beautiful variation in texture and composition - to be developed into more complex forms and other architectural components. An early experiment to begin to explore the generation and production of particular forms around a structural framework- however unlike the future experiments in growth, this required process required a form-work - requiring extra material and time to construct.

57


PRACTICAL

E

X

P

E

R

I

58

M

E

N

T


59


Testing Chambers I designed and constructed a series of 5 water containers to provide 5 separate test beds for the potential growth of biorock in salt-water. The separate containers will initially allow me to test different voltages to explore what voltage produces the most successful, plentiful and stable mineral accretion after a few days/week. I will then be able to move onto to exploring accretion around different forms - created from steel mesh as well as to test the concentration of the salt mix within the chambers to explore whether higher amounts of calcium, magnesium and strontium affect the growth and accretion process. Following the process of electrolysis each chamber is connected to a separate battery set. The cathode is connected to the steel mesh - hoping to attract the mineral accretion, where as the brass tubes act as the anode to complete the circuit. Each chamber can then be safely turned off and modifications to the wiring or the chamber or the materials can be made easily.

60


Test material

Anode

Test chambers

Base

Circuit

Power supply

Assemblage

61


Growth Rate Experiment The separate containers will initially allow me to test different voltages - to explore what voltage produces the most successful, plentiful and stable mineral accretion after a few days/week. The process is to explore and test for my own understanding those figures for efficiency - voltage that Hilbertz has previously determined. This will enable me to later alter voltage supply when required, whilst understanding the outcome. The material being used in this experiment is a simple steel wire mesh with 6.3mm spacings. VOLTAGE (VOLTS) 1.23 1.5 3 6 12 17

EFFICIENCY (PERCENT) 100 82 41 20.5 10.25 7.24

62


1.5 volts

3 volts

6 volts

9 volts

12 volts

63


64


65


66


67


+ 2 hours

+ 6 hours

+ 24 hours

+ 36 hours

+ 72 hours

68


69


70


Observation After a few days, I began to notice the water turning blue, as the water began to split into oxygen and hydrogen. Then solid clumps began to form with each of the chambers, more noticeably within the higher voltage tests. I presume that these clumps were formed from salt reacting with an alien agent within the experiment. I realised after a few days that the reason for this colouration was the presence of the copper wire used to bind the brass anodes. The material was unintended, despite creating a very interesting and vivid environment and series of colours. There was also very little accretion over the wire mesh even after a few days. I left the experiment run for 5-6 days as it was the first time I had experiment with this process and the process of electrolysis. The few series of results were very interesting, however the desired outcome had not been achieved. Black growths began to form piecemeal around the wire mesh, and this could be attributed to the nature of the anode.

71


72


73


Observation Within the higher voltage chambers of 6V and 12V I began to notice growth emerging around the wire mesh increasing the diameter of the very fine mesh. In the photographs the right, the mesh diameter has almost tripled in size. With growth being more dense and prominent on the areas of mesh closer to the anode. The growth had also been affected by the colouration of the electrolysed salt-water - ranging from a deep orange to a powdery light bluegreen. Black growths also became more prominent around the base of the mesh. All of the results and observations thus far were not anticipated. The whole process over the few weeks has been a big learning curve, increasing my awareness of the fine balances and accuracy required for sustaining the correct chemical reactions and outputs. Before I started I was not aware of the influence of the anode material and voltage. I also began to add further marine salt mixture to the chambers to explore the affect of this on the reaction - anticipating that this would increase the speed of the reaction.

74


75


76


Observation After a week, there was still very little growth around the mesh - as clearly something was preventing the reaction and the mineral accretion from occurring successfully. At this point I began to do a little wider research around the process and distilled that the probable cause of the issue was the alloy nature of the brass anode. Made up of zinc and copper, it is likely that one or both of these impurities were affecting the process. Therefore I took the decision to begin experimenting with different anodes materials, hoping that a pure metal would be more successful.

78


79


80


81


INITIAL

R

E

S

U

82

L

T

S


83


+ 1 week

1.5 volts


+ 1 week

6 volts


+ 1 week

9 volts


+ 1 week

12 volts


+ 1 week

+ 72 hours drying

12 volts


1.5 volts - 1 week

3 volts - 1 week

6 volts - 1 week

12 volts - 1 week

12 volts - 1.5 weeks


Depleted Anode - Sacrificial In cathodic protection, a metal anode that is more reactive to the corrosive environment of the system to be protected is electrically linked to the protected system, and partially corrodes or dissolves, which protects the metal of the system it is connected to. As an example, an iron or steel ship’s hull may be protected by a zinc sacrificial anode, which will dissolve into the seawater and prevent the hull from being corroded. Sacrificial anodes are particularly needed for systems where a static charge is generated by the action of flowing liquids, such as pipelines and watercraft. Sacrificial anodes are also generally used in tank-type water heaters. As the brass anode is more reactive than the steel metal mesh the anode began to dissolve. This also contributed to the contamination of the electrolyte. As the anode dissolved the amount of voltage passing into the water reduced - slowing the reaction. The anode therefore needed to be replaced after a couple of days.

91


Successful Accretion + Issues After two weeks I had achieved some success, however the growth around the wire mesh, even at 12V was very minimal. After researching into other people’s experiments and from reading around Hilbertz’s literature and experiments, I should have seen more growth given the amount of time given to the reaction. I concluded that the higher voltage increased the rate of reaction and amount of successful accretion around the mesh. It also became clear that the containments created from the depletion of the anode in the salt water were also affecting the reaction - therefore I need to search for another anode material.

92


93


PRACTICAL

E

X

P

E

R

I

94

M

E

N

T


95


image of car battery

96


Constant Power Source During my previous experiments, due to the sacrificial nature of the anode, the power source provided to the reaction fluctuated dramatically - negatively affecting the reaction and reducing the strength of any successfully accreted material. Therefore I took the decision to purchase a car battery that could provide my electrolysis experiment with a constant source of power. I chose to run the experiment on the lower 6V setting as the constant 12V supply made the reaction far too volatile. As I was using a constant source of power I was far more aware of safety concerns, particularly the combination of water and electricity. Also I became aware of the various gases released from the reaction - though these are not dangerous, I made sure that I moved my experiment to a more ventilated space, to prevent any build up.

97


Constant Power Impact After I started using the car battery, I noticed that the reaction dramatically increased, however this also had an adverse effect in the anode. As a result the sacrificial anode rapidly began to corrode and dissolve requiring to me to purchase more and more brass. As brass is a highly conductive material it dissolved at an alarming rate. The impurities in the brass were also staining any growth that did occur on the mesh.

+ 12 hours


+ 12 hours

6 volts


Changing Anode - Steel As the brass anode dissolved so quickly under the constant power supply I decided to test a solid steel anode, as it has a far lower conductivity rate. However as the reaction progressed it became clear the amount of pollutants with the steel. As another alloy the electrolysis also broke down the various metals and turned the salt-water solution in a very dense and murky liquid - prevent any accretion from occurring at all. I did not experiment with this anode for long as the water began to look toxic and after some further research about the potential gases released from such a set-up I stopped. It was clear that the metal to be used had to be a more conductive metal that the steel mesh to ensure that the anode was sacrificed as opposed to the growth bed. It was also clear that the metal had to be a pure element as any containments prevented successful accretion.

100


Aluminium Anode After looking at the most suitable alternatives to steel and brass, the list included graphite, aluminium and platinum. As various options were far too expensive to pursue, I chose aluminium. However because of the conductivity of this material and the weakness of the material, an aluminium anode would also be sacrificial, however from reading around its use in this process, the resultant dissolution into the solution would not dramatically hamper the reaction. As I progressed with this option, it was clear that it worked successfully and the reaction was very strong and successful.

101


102


Metal Conductivity and Resistance - Anode Material

103


Galvanic Anode - Shipping Industry A galvanic anode is the main component of a galvanic cathodic protection (CP) system used to protect buried or submerged metal structures from corrosion. They are made from a metal alloy with a more “active” voltage (more negative reduction potential / more positive electrochemical potential) than the metal of the structure. The difference in potential between the two metals means that the galvanic anode corrodes, so that the anode material is consumed in preference to the structure. The loss (or sacrifice) of the anode material gives rise to the alternative name of sacrificial anode. In brief, corrosion is a chemical reaction occurring by an electrochemical mechanism.[1] During corrosion there are two reactions, oxidation, where electrons leave the metal (and results in the actual loss of metal) and reduction, where the electrons are used to convert water or oxygen to hydroxides. In most environments, the hydroxide ions and ferrous ions combine to form ferrous hydroxide, which eventually becomes the familiar brown rust. As corrosion takes place, oxidation and reduction reactions occur and electrochemical cells are formed on the surface of the metal so that some areas will become anodic (oxidation) and some cathodic (reduction). Electric current will flow from the anodic areas into the electrolyte as the metal corrodes. Conversely, as the electric current flows from the electrolyte to the cathodic areas the rate of corrosion is reduced.[4] (In this example, ‘electric current’ is referring to conventional current flow, rather than the flow of electrons). As the metal continues to corrode, the local potentials on the surface of the metal will change and the anodic and cathodic areas will change and move. As a result, in ferrous metals, a general covering of rust is formed over the whole surface, which will eventually consume all the metal. This is rather a simplified view of the corrosion process, because it can occur in several different forms. CP works by introducing another metal (the galvanic anode) with a much more anodic surface, so that all the current will flow from the introduced anode and the metal to be protected becomes cathodic in comparison to the anode. This effectively stops the oxidation reactions on the metal surface by transferring them to the galvanic anode, which will be sacrificed in favour of the structure under protection. For this to work there must be an electron pathway between the anode and the metal to be protected (e.g., a wire or direct contact) and an ion pathway between both the oxidizing agent (e.g., water or moist soil) and the anode, and the oxidizing agent and the metal to be protected, thus forming a closed circuit; therefore simply bolting a piece of active metal such as zinc to a less active metal, such as mild steel, in air (a poor conductor and therefore no closed circuit) will not furnish any protection.

104


105


INITIAL

R

E

S

U

106

L

T


107


+ 18 hours + 12 hours

6 volts


109


+ 36 hours

6 volts


111


+ 72 hours

6 volts


113


+ 72 hours

+ 72 hours drying time

6 volts


115


6 volts - 1.5 days Clumps of mineral accretion began to form quickly on the mesh - seemingly focused on specific areas at the beginning of the experiment.

6 volts - 3 days There was not much progression after 3 days, therefore I added more marine-salt to the mixture.

6 volts - 4 days Accretion dramatically increased after adding salt, providing a thick and more even coverage of calcium carbonate deposit on the mesh - adding 10-12mm of depth to the steel mesh

116


Successful Accretion After investing weeks in trying to understand and develop this process, I finally achieved successful mineral accretion, with salt being deposited evenly and in significant quantity onto the mesh framework. During the 4 day process I had to replace the aluminium anode 4 times. Despite the successful growth the process was also hampered by the safety mechanism of the car battery, and the amp level tripped out the power source due to the intense conductivity of the anode and the hybrid solution that had been created by its dissolving. I was really happy with the amount of growth, which enabled me to talk confidently about the biorock process and the notions of growing material, having achieved it within my own experiment. This whole process has been frustrating but the result seen here in this book, though relatively small, marks a big success and landmark for my project. Being able to understand the material’s qualities and the process of its production will help to inform my factory proposal and architectural ambitions for the material.

117


EXPERIMENTS

P

R

O

D

U

118

C

T

S


By-Product - Hydrogen Hydrogen is a by-product of this process and if production of this material and this process was prusued on a large scale, then it could be harnessed and used in other processes. Some see hydrogen gas as the clean fuel of the future – generated from water and returning to water when it is oxidised. Hydrogen-powered fuel cells are increasingly being seen as ‘pollution-free’ sources of energy and are now being used in some buses and cars. Hydrogen also has many other uses. In the chemical industry it is used to make ammonia for agricultural fertiliser (the Haber process) and cyclohexane and methanol, which are intermediates in the production of plastics and pharmaceuticals. It is also used to remove sulfur from fuels during the oil-refining process. Large quantities of hydrogen are used to hydrogenate oils to form fats, for example to make margarine. In the glass industry hydrogen is used as a protective atmosphere for making flat glass sheets. In the electronics industry it is used as a flushing gas during the manufacture of silicon chips. The low density of hydrogen made it a natural choice for one of its first practical uses – filling balloons and airships. However, it reacts vigorously with oxygen (to form water) and its future in filling airships ended when the Hindenburg airship caught fire

119


INITIAL

R

E

S

U

120

L

T


+ 24 hours

6 volts


INITIAL

R

E

S

U

124

L

T


125


+ 72 hours

6 volts


DIGITAL

E X P E R I M E N T A T I O N

132


133


Growing Structures Growing Architecture Through the establishment of wireframe structures, rigid and structural geometries can be grown over time to form structural shells, solid forms, and intricate curvature with a rich tapestry of textural variety. An architecture can be grown that begins to blur the boundary between artifice and nature - producing building elements, or entire constructions that can be conducive and productive to a marine environment and its natural cycle instead of being damaging and reductive - as is the case with majority of standard building materials and methods.

134


135


136


137


138


potential components

139


The Biorock Book - MArch Architecture - Unit 16 - Bartlett School of Architecture  

Material research and growth experimentation. A book of Biorock research and practical experiments in support of my MArch final design proje...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you