Imperial graduate Nicole Stjernsward has invented Kaiku, a system that turns plants into powdered paint pigments using vaporisation technology.
Avocados, pomegranates, beetroots, lemons and onions are just some of the fruits and vegetables that can be placed into Kaiku and turned into the raw material for paints, inks and dyes.
Skins and peels are boiled in water to produce a dye, which is transferred to a reservoir in the Kaiku system. Along with hot, pressurised air, this dye is forced through an atomising nozzle into a glass vacuum cleaner.
The fine mist produced is hot enough that it vaporises almost instantly, and the dry particles are pulled through the chamber and into the collection reservoir.
Stjernsward designed Kaiku to offer a natural alternative to using artificial pigments that can often be toxic.
“By transitioning to natural based pigments, it will be easier for us to recycle products and make them more circular,” Stjernsward, who studied at Imperial College London, told Dezeen.
“Since many synthetic pigments today are toxic or made of ambiguous materials, colour is typically considered a ‘contamination’ in the Circular Economy principles,” she added. “I hope to change this paradigm.”
These methods have fallen out of fashion with industrialisation and the introduction of cheaper pigments derived from petrochemicals. But the effect on people and the environment can be disastrous.
Paints can release petrochemicals into the air long after they have dried, causing respiratory problems and harming the ozone layer. Industrial effluent containing synthetic dyes leaches into the water system, poisoning aquatic life and posing a major health hazard to humans.
The Forbes Pigment Collection contains samples of material that represent all shades of the rainbow — plus brown, white, black, and metallic.
Nearly 100 years ago, Edward Waldo Forbes — art historian and former director of the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University — launched into a worldwide hunt for color. From powders to plants, he assiduously acquired pigments and their source materials to establish an unparalleled collection of colourants. It is known today as the Forbes Pigment Collection, and it contains over 3,000 samples of material that represent all shades of the rainbow — plus brown, white, black, and metallic.
The entire library of bottles and vials resides in the University’s Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, where they gleam in a modern displaythat opened in 2014. Although you can see them from a distance, the area is, unfortunately, off-limits to visitors aching to explore the shelves. A new book recently released by Atelier Éditions, however, provides an intimate tour of the collection that makes it more accessible than ever.
An Atlas of Rare & Familiar Colour features photographs of over 200 colorants, accompanied by texts that chronicle their backstories as well as the history of the collection. They are captured individually by Pascale Georgiev as if they were lab specimens, neatly centered against a plain white backdrop. Like biological specimens, they have been preserved in glass, coaxed into cork bottles, medical bottles, and test tubes. And, just as bits of tissue can help scientists identify plants and animals, these pigments were — and still are — used as reliable representatives to distinguish hues in the wild.
The world’s newest shade of blue, a brilliantly bright, durable pigment called YInMn blue, has been licensed for commercial use and is already in the hands of some artists.
The pigment was discovered in 2009 by chemist Mas Subramanian and his team at Oregon State University while they were conducting experiments connected to electronics. For one series of tests, the scientists mixed black manganese oxide with a variety of chemicals and heated them to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. (The name comes from the pigment’s elemental makeup, which includes Yttrium, Indium and Manganese.)
In a serendipitous accident, one of the resulting samples turned a vivid shade of blue. Further testing found that the unique crystal structure of the resulting compound kept the colour from fading, even when exposed to oil or water.
From: Art World – artnet.com (art net news)