DESIGN MARCH: Lupine in review

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Lupine in review : fibers of the future

Efnasmiðjan presents the project Lupine in review, fibers of the future, which aims to develop an eco-friendly fiber material from Nootka Lupine, for e.g. packaging and building materials.

Internationally, there is a lot of emphasis on us, the people of the world, embracing sustainability in all areas. One aspect is the sustainable use of resources by returning their products to the cycle of nature without harming the earth. Nootka lupine is an underutilized sustainable resource that grows in large areas in many parts of Iceland. The plant’s biomass can be up to 7-9 tons of dry material per hectare per year. It thrives well in Icelandic conditions and does not require fertilization or imported seed. In addition, it can recultivate depleted soil and enrich it with nutrients for other plants and trees. Nootka Lupine is classified as an invasive species in Iceland, and its spread is prohibited.

The idea behind the project is to develop a fiber material that is environmentally friendly, has a low carbon footprint and can be easily degraded in nature without polluting it. Such a fiber material can be suitable for both packaging and building materials.

The project has been running since summer 2017 and involves researching and developing fiber material from the Nootka lupine and evolving harvesting and processing methods for the plant. The goal is to develop an environmentally friendly fiber material from it.

In recent years, the project has been carried out in collaboration with Matís to develop decomposition methods for processing the fiber material and to perform chemical and textural measurements on it. Tests have also been carried out with the material in the field of building materials in collaboration with Tæknisetur. The results of the project show that the fiber material passed most of the tests well. At least one type of fiber material derived from the project, can be considered safe in contact with food. The goal for the fiber material and its processing, from raw material extraction to final production, is to have a low environmental footprint and for the material to be easily degraded in nature without polluting it.

During the Design March, May 3-5, 2023, Efnasmiðjan, led by product designers Inga Kristín Guðlaugsdóttir and Elín S. Harðardóttir, will present the project in the Nordic House greenhouse.