A new wood alternative made from a byproduct of kombucha brewing waste won this year’s James Dyson Award, which celebrates problem-solving design. The material, called Pyrus, was invented by sustainable-design student Gabe Tavas. Tavas’ company, Symmetry, makes small items from Pyrus that replicate exotic woods like mahogany or purpleheart (two wood types found in the rainforest and endangered by aggressive deforestation).
Tavas was inspired to create Pyrus after seeing designers use kombucha bacterial cellulose (the film that grows on top of the beverage during brewing) in various projects. Tavas was struck by the fact that trees are made from cellulose, and he began experimenting in his dorm room with the waste from his own kombucha brewing. He eventually partnered with local Chicago producer, KombuchAde, which supplies Tavas with 250 pounds of cellulose a day.
Pyrus is made by pouring cellulose into a mold, adding agar (an algae-based binding gel), and then dehydrating and compressing it. The synthetic wood can be sanded and cut, but will decompose in contact with water.
Read more (Fast Company)