Saratech Permasorb Wallpaper

Old buildings are rife with pesticides, radon, and other toxins. But it’s wasteful and expensive to tear them down. One solution: Permasorb wallpaper, which is embedded with carbon microspheres that safely absorb and sequester harmful toxins emitted by walls.

Carbon Negative Cement

The winner of this year’s Material of the Year award. Produced by Novacem, a British company, the material adjusts the basic chemistry of the commonplace Portland cement. Instead of calcium carbonates, it uses magnesium oxides and silicates. In English, that means making the concrete requires almost 95% less carbon emissions. In addition, the raw materials are readily available around the world.


Foils are everywhere these days -- a simple way of making a package or the printed page pop. But foil also usually renders paper unrecyclable. Mirafoil, by contrast, is a foil coating that can be removed from paper during the standard de-inking process that precedes recycling.


We hear about carbon nanotubes all the time, but they’re finally making their way to market. In Lumisys, the nanotubes act as wires connecting LED lights that have been embedded in a polymer sheet. What results is a minimal, transparent electric display, which uses little energy. The panels might soon be appearing in cars, housewares, and signage.


The plastics you’d find in heavy duty usage in cars, chairs, or appliances is tough because it’s often woven with glass fibers. But that also makes that plastic hard to recycle. HyPerform will toughen plastic just as well as glass, but it also makes the plastic easier to recycle.


It’s weird to think that paper could replace the plastics you find in the millions of packages around the world. But that’s exactly what Paperlite does. Made of biodegradable paper sheets from sustainable forests, the material can be molded and sealed just like plastic.

FlatCOR Flat Boards

Particle board and MDF are ubiquitous building materials these days. They’re also toxic to make, because all those tiny wood fibers are glued together with heavy duty resins. FlatCOR does away with those resins, by weaving together cellulose fibers using only water -- thus doing away with the wood as well, in favor of recycling newspapers and cardboard. The process is similar to making paper, but the board can be used in displays and furniture.


The sytrofoam that we usually use in packaging is basically solidified oil -- not so good for the environment. Ecocradle, by contrast, takes hardly any energy to make. It starts as agricultural byproducts -- rice hulls and cotton burrs, for example. These are then seeded with the roots of mushrooms, which grow miles of white fibers that digest the byproducts and turn them into a white, foamlike substance. It can replace your usual synthetic foams, while using only 1/10th of the energy.

Ad-Air Technology

Ad-Air is an ingenious approach to using less plastic. Plastic sheets are injected with waste carbon dioxide, expanding them to double the thickness with 20% less density. As a result, the plastic is just as strong, but a given application can take 3 times less material.


"High-pressure Laminates" are an ever present feature of modern life, found in furniture, counters, displays, and even rail cars. They’re also toxic to make, having been bound with formaldehyde resins. Eco-HPL, by contrast, replaces those usual production methods, thanks to a core made of 100% sugarcane.


10 Wild Materials That Could Help Save the Earth [Slideshow]

An exclusive look at the just-announced 2010 Materials of Year.

We take the stuff that makes up our world for granted. Plastic is plastic, right? And wood is wood? Absolutely not: Materials are still a hotbed of innovation, often involving ideas to help save the planet in imperceptible ways that mask their huge impact. Those innovations are highlighted in this year's Material of the Year awards, given out by Material ConneXion.

That company is pretty ideally situated to give the awards: If you're a designer looking to find a material for manufacturing something that seems impossible, start with them. And if you're a brilliant chemist with a world changing idea about plastics, you also want to start with them.

This year, they've given their grand prize to a new type of concrete that emits 90% less carbon dioxide when being produced — a huge reduction, given that some scientists believe that concrete production causes 5% of mankind's carbon footprint. But the nine other materials cited in the awards are equally amazing, involving fungus-grown replacements for sytrofoam, plastics blown up to twice their size, and electrical circuits made of carbon nanotubes. Take a look.

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  • Ma. Eugenia Brenes

    Hi!, I´m a jewerly designer from Costa Rica and I´m looking for an alternative wire who is environment friendly. choices or options that I can use to produce the jewerly instead of locks or metal items that we need to finish our products. Thanks for your help !!!