"I started by determining which resin and fibre combination would be best suited to our bench."
Large quantities of elephant grass, short flax and hemp fibre are cultivated in the area around Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Geese tend to avoid these crops, making the area safer for air traffic. The plants can now also be used to produce biocomposite benches, which will be used at Schiphol and other locations throughout the municipality of Haarlemmermeer. Inholland students from various study programmes will be working together to realise this new step towards a fully bio-based economy.
In addition to serving as a bird repellent, the three crops can also be used to create a wide range of attractive products. Inholland University will be developing the designer benches in collaboration with various partners as a part of its Sustainability theme. At least one of the benches will be installed at Schiphol Plaza, with over a dozen others designated for locations throughout the municipality of Haarlemmermeer.
Participating degree programmes
Students from various study programmes will be assigned to carry out different aspects of the project. The bench exteriors were designed by students from the Aeronautical Engineering programme in Delft. Communication students developed a concept whereby the bench itself offers information on its remarkable origins, and took charge of the project presentation. Kelly de Graaff designed the project house style which is also featured on the website biobasedbank.nl, while Nadine de Chauvigny de Blot will be organising the product presentation at Schiphol Plaza on 8 April.
Strongest composite material
Martijn van Meijel was responsible for the technical preparation and production of the plug, mould and prototypes for the bench's outer cover at the Inholland Delft Composite Lab. He was assisted by Thanapoom Lerlertthaiyanupa and Joshua Tang. 'The biocomposite is produced by combining resin with short flax and hemp fibres', Martijn explains. 'I started by determining which resin and fibre combination would be best suited to our bench.' Martijn designed the biocomposite on the basis of pressure and tension tests, and tested the resulting material in both an oven and a freezer. After all, a bench designed for use in every possible weather condition needs to be robust. 'You want to avoid any tears in the bench's nice gel coating!'
Brian Sandifort studies Communication in The Hague and worked with fellow students Natasja Vermond, Niels van Houten and Tara Stokdijk to develop a communication concept around the innovative new bench. 'We developed a way to encourage users and passers-by to learn more about the bench. A speaker system installed inside the bench detects passers-by, triggering a voice message about the sustainable materials and the project website. Schiphol applies a fairly strict set of regulations in terms of which objects can be placed on and around a bench. We decided to think out of the box and focus on the auditive experience.'
An ambitious, large-scale project
Various other programmes were also involved in the Bio-based Bench project. Niels Konings and former student Jesper Maassen of AD Crossmedia Communication created a making-of film, which will be published on the website. Finally, Horticulture & Agribusiness student Marco van Adrichem assessed the costs and benefits of the Bio-based bench from an economic, societal and ecological perspective.
This ambitious, large-scale Bio-based Bench project will contribute to a more sustainable, circular economy. The use of biocomposite materials is currently gaining in popularity, as we witness the rapid emergence of new trends and developments. The project will offer a large number of students the opportunity to get to grips with these innovative new products.