Cell walls, metabolism and bioinformatics




Category: General  |  Date: Feb 15, 2016  |  Author: Alexandra Wormit

On the 29th of January 2016 we presented our boost-fund project „Technical product harvesting“ (TEPHA) in the scope of RWTH transparent.

The rector and the chancellor of the RWTH invited representatives from politics and business, and university staff for a review of the last year and celebration of several awards. Not only actual trends of the business figures of the RWTH were presented but also excellent projects in the field of gender balance and new innovations were honored (see also here). Furthermore Prof. Max Kerner received the „von-Kaven-Ring“ for his long standing commitment for the RWTH (see also here).


Balance bike made of thermal formed bamboo (background) with probes of thermal formed bamboo, and mycelium grown in form of a brick (foreground).

After the speeches and awards ceremony, innovative projects funded by exploratory research space (ERS) presented their work in an exhibition with posters and demonstrations and discussed their results with guests. We presented TEPHA, an interdisciplinary research project together with engineers (Institut für allgemeine Konstruktionstechnik des Maschinenbaus), architects (Institut für Tragkonstruktion) and bioecologists (Institut für Umweltforschung).

The focus of this project is the utilization of near net shape grown organisms as technical products. The properties of plants and fungi are systematically investigated to evaluate their potential for technical applications.

As proof-of-concept, bamboo and calabash are grown into almost rectangular shapes and analysed for their mechanical properties (e.g. tensile strength, pressure resistance). At the exhibition we could show first results of calabash fruits grown into the shape of a saddle and a balance bike made of thermal formed bamboo.


Presentation of calabashs (left hand to middle) and mycelium at RWTHtransparent

Additionally, growing the mycelium of a fungus into a given form and fortification of this structure is another approach of TEPHA. At the Institut für Tragkonstruktion a first study preparing a stool of mycelium was performed and the first result was shown on this evening.

Probe of mycelium grown in the shape of a stool (below the dessert).


Anna-Lena BegerIn the scope of the TEPHA project, measurements of important material characteristics for engineers and architects are carried out and the results of those experiments are compared with finite element simulations. Subsequently, (microscopic and biochemical) analysis of the cell and cell wall behaviour in near net shape grown parts of the organisms are performed in comparison to natural occurring shapes.

Among other guests our project team discussed the results with several professors of different disciplines from the RWTH. Also a range of scientists, staff members and interested students passed by and discussed different aspects during the exhibition. Over all this was a highly interesting evening with a bundle of new impressions (see also images below for some impressions).












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