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SEED BOMBS AWAY

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architecture and design
 
Add to Flipboard Magazine. Fuente: landscapearchitecturemagazine - View all news from this site
SEED BOMBS AWAY SEED BOMBS AWAY

SEED BOMBS AWAY






BY ZACH MORTICE
A hydrogel-enabled seed bomb. Credit: U.S. provisional patent application No. 62/465,341. Nahin Shah | Martina Decker, Material Dynamics Lab.
The tools for tactical urbanism seem more likely to be developed in community center meeting halls and anonymous Internet forums rather than university laboratories. But at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), an architecture professor is working on ways to give impromptu urban vegetation efforts staying power with hydrogel seed bombs.
Martina Decker, who directs NJIT?s Idea Factory and Material Dynamics Lab, is combining seed bombs?balls of organic matter that protect and help seeds packed within them grow?with hydrogel granulates, polymers that are extremely hydrophilic, sucking in moisture and swelling to up to 400 times their own weight in water. By nestling this water-attracting material amid seeds, young plants have access to moisture that stays in the soil and won?t evaporate.
Martina Decker. Image courtesy of Jordan Alport.
Decker trained as an architect, but found her way to material science research after realizing how unsustainable many building and planting materials are. By looking at materials at the ?molecular level,? she says, ?rather than trying to find the right material for an application, we can design materials for the application.?
The hydrogel seed bombs aren?t a fire-and-forget miracle. ?It?s really more of a starter medium,? she says. Hydrogel is perfect for inattentive houseplant owners, but successful plants that rely on it still need some added moisture.
Each of Decker?s hydrogel seed bombs places compost, hydrogel granulates, fertilizer, and seeds (she?s been experimenting with wheatgrass, onions, and radishes) inside a water-permeable clay shell. When the bombs are launched and they reach the earth and absorb water, the hydrogel begins swelling with it, pushing seeds out into a wider radius. ?You increase the radius by eight inches,? says Decker, who pioneered this research with help from NJIT industrial design student Nahin Shah, the lead designer on the project. It?s a good planting method for large areas that don?t need to be planted with any precision. Moisture is released slowly over time, and is less able to evaporate, especially if the gel makes its way underground. This hydrogel can absorb and release water over many cycles, lasting for several years. Tests with wheatgrass planted with hydrogel resulted in plants that grew faster, larger, and stronger than those with only sparse watering in standard soil.
Hydrogel at various stages of absorption. Credit: Martina Decker, Material Dynamics Lab.
Decker is beginning to look at combining hydrogel seed bombs with drone technology, investigating ways algorithms can program drones to best distribute seeds. She?s also researching the ways hydrogel could work with green wall systems. ?One of the biggest issues that we have with green walls is that they?re fighting gravity more than a green roof,? says ...


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Fuente de la noticia: landscapearchitecturemagazine
Fecha de publicación: 18-04-2017 21:43
visto: 6

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