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Thursday, 20 January 2022 11:11

Artistic wind power collaboration leads to sustainable material innovation

During the process of electic car maker Polestar and awareness artist Thijs Biersteker presenting their interactive installation "We Harvest Wind", the collaboration ended up leading to more than just innovative art. 

2022 Woven Image 7 16x9 1In the midst of the project's creation a new fully biodegradable corn-based adhesive was developed, which has shown the potential to become a future component in Polestar cars. The art installation was inspired by Polestar's environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) report, and aimed to bring attention to the importance of renewable energy.

The We Harvest Wind sculpture is three metres in diameter, featuring a collection of blades that spin around a central spiral. Visitors can control the 'wind planet' themselves controlling large fans, making them aware that the power to make real change is in their own hands. When creating the piece, Biersteker's Woven Studio and Polestar's UK-based R&D team worked hand-in-hand on the research and development.

In selecting a material for the blades, the team initially explored the use of Bcomp powerRibs™ together with a natural fibre and polypropylene (NFPP) board – the same flax based composite material featured extensively on the Polestar Precept concept car.

However, the majority of natural fibre based products use fossil fuel based polypropylene resin, and this was something the artist together with Polestar's R&D team wanted to challenge during the collaboration. A series of more sustainable, biodegradable resins were explored.

Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 11.15.54"When you're creating artwork that talks about environmental impact, you have to create something that doesn't impact the world too much itself," says Thijs Biersteker, artist and founder of Woven Studio.

"The We Harvest Wind collaboration enabled Woven Studio and Polestar to join forces and explore new combinations of materials using bio-based polymers instead of traditional fossil fuel-based materials. This collaboration has kick-started several initiatives within the team at Polestar and cemented some ongoing studies we have with Bcomp. Now we are hoping to implement a fully bio-based solution, with powerRibs™ and bio-sourced polypropylene, in the future production of Polestar cars," says Ross Kelk, Chief Engineer of Interiors at Polestar UK R&D.

Thijs Biersteker continues: "We made the blades in the sculpture from 3D printed recycled PET plastic, and the outer wings were made with the flax-based structure and a new eco-friendly and corn-based resin – a combination of materials which was developed during the project by Woven Studio and Polestar. We developed a composite between the flax and polylactic acid (PLA), which is basically a biopolymer that is biodegradable and made of corn. The combination of these two materials created a really organic feel to the
artwork."

The installation was monitored and documented through a materials passport, tracking the methods and materials used, for future recycling. Polestar is taking concrete action to achieve a climate-neutral future, through embracing transparency in carbon footprint reporting, supply chain ethics and materials traceability.