An attempt to create a fully biodegradable material from banana peels.
It is high time for humanity to move to eco-friendly materials and circular economy. Researchers are doing amazing work in this area, for example, 3D printing mycelium. However, a lot of what passes as a 'bio-material' these days is based on 'bio-resins.' These are made from natural materials but do not decompose any better than their synthetic counterparts.
Bananest is completely bio-degradable as it is only made out of dried banana peels and gelatine based adhesive.
I don’t remember where the idea to work with banana skins came from but it seemed to make sense. Bananas are very popular and you can nd a banana skin in every other bin. I have sourced mine from local smoothie shops.
Drying the banana peels and eventually the banana material turned out to be the most time consuming parts of this project. It also required a lot of electricity because I was using my oven, space heater and heating.
It was important that the adhesive to hold the skins together is also fully biodegradable. I have experimented with ‘bio plastics‘ based on corn and tapioca starch and mixes of the two. I have also used lactose based glue made of milk. Finally, I settled on a gelatine based glue because it made a strong bond, was easy to work with a dried relatively fast. I wish I had used vegan gelatine though.
I have tested all the adhesives on small scale by pressing them between two metal sheets and drying them in my oven. I have also tried breaking the banana skins into different sizes of pieces but eventually went with the whole peels.
The mould was designed so that the top and bottom part were the same shape that can be easily made from a metal sheet with few bends and only a little welding. Small holes were added to allow better drying of the material while it is pressed.
The banana material that I made is quite strong when pulled to sides but it needed some structural support. Therefore I decided to make a wooden frame for my chair.
The banana peels were dipped in the glue and layered in the mould, before being pressed and left to dry. This formed the first layer of the seat on which I have then added more layers and repeated the process.