I read an article the other day about exciting new materials for designers to keep a watch on and some of them were very interesting to learn about. Not only in relation to my own practices but to the global possibilities that could arise from them in the near future.
Graphene Nanocoating is one of these promising materials. A lightweight, nearly transparent substance, one hundred times stronger than steel and capable of efficient heat and electrical conductivity. Some possible uses for this in the design world include Graphene nanocoating of other materials, one example given could be adding it to the list of experimental phone materials. However it also has applications in solar power, electronics, biomedicine, and more. Particularly hopeful in my view, is a team from the Ocean University of China (Qingdao) and Yunnan Normal University (Kunming, China) who are working on developing an all-weather solar cell triggered by both sunlight and raindrops. By coating a highly efficient dye-sensitized solar cell with a thin film of graphene it can conduct electricity created by the point of contact between the raindrop and the graphene.
Another exciting development is Karta-Pack, a 100% post-consumer material with the feel of cotton yet the solidity of plastic. An all-pulp-and-paper recycled product that contains no plastics and can be discarded into compost or recycling bins. It can reduce the content of toxic landfills as well as the harmful greenhouse gases (GHG) released by landfills and has practical uses in packaging, furniture design and more.
RE>CRETE is a simple yet effective solution to recycling and reusing old materials. In competition to concrete, it is a composite containing shredded newspaper and junk mail, ground up packing Styrofoam, home electronics wire, credit cards and CDs, salvaged house paint, dryer lint, Portland cement, and fly ash. All this bonded together with cement as an effective and applicable form of recycling that can use old waste to make new building material.
And taking to my personal love of paper and ink, Paptic is a new material replacing paper and plastic. It is recyclable, consisting mainly of renewable materials, 70% biodegradable and twice as durable yet 50% lighter than paper. It is easy to print on, recycle, and perfect for packaging.
Hopefully with the continuation of learning, experimenting and innovating, we can see materials such as these lead to great possibilities for sustainability and design in the world.