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Refining the potential of Bacterial Cellulose as a Building Facade Material, through a Design-led Process

Lookup NU author(s): Karolina Bloch, Dr Mahab Aljannat, Professor Ruth Morrow, Natalia PynirtziORCiD, Derrick Mwebaza, Oliver Perry



Bacterial Cellulose (BC), a carbohydrate polymer synthesised by bacteria, has been chiefly deployed in the areas of biomedical applications, the food industry and increasingly in packaging and product design. The research team has been working on a prototype over the last 2 years that uses BC as external cladding for construction. This paper will outline the project to date. As a design-driven project it worked on multiple levels to deliver a complete full- scale prototype located on the external south/west fa├žade of a building in the north-east of England. To do so meant the Team faced challenges at every step of the process. These included: finding the space and necessary resources to grow large amounts of BC and at large scale; devising an accessible and achievable form of prototype assembly that would keep the cellulose elements in place over a longer time period (1.5 years by the time of the CEES conference); trialling the addition of other materials during the growth phase to alter the final outcome; and investigating surface finishes to affect appearance and response to weathering. The most significant outcome of the prototype was that it evidenced for the first time the robustness of BC applied to an external context. The prototype was monitored over an 18 month cycle to facilitate our understanding of BC performance toward different environment parameters. Since then, the research team has continued to refine its methods of growing and testing the outcomes of that production. The paper will go on to discuss in more detail the current ongoing investigations. These include. 1. using different approaches for BC production and 2. comparatively testing the resultant BC using Instron materials testing equipment, 3 maintenance techniques for the BC facade.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bloch K, Aljannat M, Morrow R, Pynirtzi N, Mwebaza D, Perry O

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: CEES 2023: 2nd International Conference on Construction, Energy, Environment and Sustainability

Year of Conference: 2023

Pages: 1-4

Print publication date: 27/06/2023

Online publication date: 27/06/2023

Acceptance date: 01/03/2023

Date deposited: 01/10/2023


ePrints DOI: 10.57711/17ns-3072