Potium

Potium converts waste material from felled trees into nutrient-rich, durable and biodegradable plant-pots via mushroom technology: a natural and labor-saving biological process cleverly used to humanity’s advantage.

PROBLEM

The UK woodlands are critically endangered by Phytophthora Ramorum, a deadly and uncurable water mold organism (Scottish Forestry, 2018). Affected trees and nearby susceptible trees are felled by law as a precaution, thus generating vast amounts of wood waste. The waste is eradicated via expensive and limiting on-site burning and burying.

PROCESS

Ramorum Dieback has no cure, and infected-waste is generated from mandatory felling all-year round. The constant and longstanding source of infected-waste is abnormally present in Scotland’s ‘Management Zone,’ where the disease is too advanced to recover. On a positive note, however, the transport of ‘affected-wood’ within the zone, and out of standard procedure, doesn’t require mitigation nor quarantine efforts; the zone serves a strong foundation to viably and efficiently harvest, transport and manage infected-waste.

The Management Zone’s out of standard procedures and high infection rates ensure a smooth flow of free, on-site and long-term waste for the facility, hence the facility’s chosen location.

PROPOSAL

The aim is to construct a waste-management facility for infected-material within the ‘Management Zone.’ Mixtures of mycelium from oyster mushrooms and tree-waste transform into biodegradable mycelium plant-pots. These can serve as plastic-free alternatives to traditional pots, and can be returned to the ground through planting, adding nutrients back to the soil in the process. By developing waste management systems like this one, we can support jobs, stop waste and encourage better woodland management.

Mycelium’s self-growing and adhesive properties autmatically assemble or repair blocks

Storyboard of Potium’s Life-Cycle

Mycelium blocks are a packaging material: they’re ephemeral and suitable for temporary/single-use. The mycelium’s ephemeral properties work in harmony with the pot’s concept: the pots are conveniently planted with the sapling, which eventually biodegrade and fertilize the new plant. Resultingly, the design of the pot takes inspiration from common packaging traits including cheap, geometric and simplistic form, and stackability for viable storage and transport. The bottom of the pot is molded from recycled plastic egg carton chambers.

Potium won the prestigious Student Design Awards for the brief ‘A New Leaf’

John Makepeace Award £1,000

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