Sustainable Expanding Bowl (2013) by Tomorrow Machine for Innventia

This self-expanding instant food package combines different aspects of sustainability. It saves space in transportation by being compressed – at the same time as it is made out of a 100% bio based and biodegradable material, invented by Innventia.

When pouring hot water into the package the mechano-active material will react to the heat and transform from a compressed package to a serving bowl. This is the new generation of sustainable package design, using materials that are both smart and environmentally friendly.

The project is a collaboration with Innventia with the purpose to combine the knowledge of scientists and the creativity of designers. We opted to use the full potential of the new material, and create the sustainable package design of tomorrow – today.­­

The Lotus Effect

Swedish research company Innventia and designers Anna Glansén and Hanna Billqvist from design agency Tomorrow Machine have teamed up once again to create a collection of self-cleaning plates and cups.

Mimicking the hydrophobic (water repellent) surface of the lotus leaf, the cellulose-based products boast a super hydrophobic coating that repels dirt. Designed for the year 2035, the self-cleaning plates and cups save the world’s dwindling water supply and offer an ecological alternative to environmentally damaging detergents.

To read about Tomorrow Machine and Innventia’s first creative collaboration, see Sustainable Expanding Bowl.


Self-Opening Package (2012) by Tomorrow Machine for Innventia

A package that opens itself when the temperature (in the oven) is just right and the food is ready to be served.

We studied shapes that are self-opening in nature in order work with the mechano-active material which will change shape when exposed to high temperature.  The project is a collaboration with Swedish research company Innventia, who invented the 100% bio based and biodegradable material.

Getting value out of lignin

Swedish researchers have made carbon fibre out of the wood fibre lignin and demonstrated it reinforcing the plastic roof and as the electrode in the battery of a model car.

Carbon fibre reinforced plastic is currently used in high-end automotive and aerospace applications, where its high strength makes it a replacement for metals, but at a fraction of the weight. However, few ‘ordinary’ cars take advantage of the material, as it is too expensive.

Lignin makes up 25-30% of the mass of dry wood and is one of the world’s most abundant natural polymers and sources of carbon, being the chemical that gives wood and bark its hardness.

The Swedish researchers, from Innventia, Swerea and KTH, say lignin-based carbon fibre could be made cost effectively and have a plan to launch it commercially by 2024.

The next step, according to researchers, is a process line on a pilot scale with continuous production in order to identify the challenges that arise when scaling up. In addition, larger quantities of carbon fibre are required to evaluate composites and composite components, which will involve making large-scale manufacture of carbon fibre more cost-effective.

Birgitha Nyström, Research Manager in Materials Engineering at Swerea SICOMP, said, 'There is no reason to believe that it will not prove possible to replace today’s fossil-based carbon fibres with lignin-based carbon fibre in these manufacturing processes.’

Unlocking the value of lignin will be an important part of making the 'bio-based economy’ a reality. Chemists have been working for years to develop an efficient way to synthesise various molecules out of lignin, which has a complex chemical structure.

The material is a byproduct of papermaking, but currently is most commonly burnt for energy, rather than synthesised for chemicals, or made into a new material such as carbon fibre.

The work of the Swedish researchers could grow confidence in the potential for lignin to find wider commercial use.