Terraforming Alkalin Experiments

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T(t)erraforming: Alkaline Experiments #1, 2018


THIS IS WORK IN PROGRESS

  1. Matter #Nonhuman #Agency #Extremophile #Alien #Ecosystem #Resistance #Post-digital #Post-media #Transdisciplinar #Opensource #DIY #Openscience #Capitalocene #Ecocide #Technocide #Chemicals #Pollution #Hazard #Dissolution #Transmutation #Reverse #Process #Junk #Aluminium #Electronics #Molecular


Research Description

Raphaëlle Mueller and Vanessa Lorenzo are collaborating since 2016. They are both artists and researchers, working at the intersection of open science, art and media. Their aim is to operate — in a critical way — the linking between the scientific and non-scientific worlds, especially in the frame of environmental issues, through an artistic practice and alternative open tools. In regards to their researches, they are looking for new types of growth in the actual biotope of post-capitalist landscapes. Their exploratory methodologies indicate multilateral dialogues by questioning hidden and speculative relations between ecology, politics and the human. In conversation and collaboration with scientists and biohackers, they aim to expand speculative narrative as well as developing open protocols and DIY tools.
Our work engages a mining perspective to digital culture, bringing in a way to acknowledge the residue when value set by the market is extracted and the after-effects of industrialisation that left behind polluted and sterile ecosystems. In addition, it seeks to reverse this process to rethink residual matter or junk electronics while speculating with the new materiality of the Capitalocene.

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<a href="https://giphy.com/gifs/alien-diy-process-3o751QDkajJYYjAD9C">via GIPHY</a>


For instance, due to the massive extraction and refining of aluminium, some soils are too alkaline for any form of life, mimicking extra-terrestrial extreme environments. This hostile reality requires new modes of re-thinking both art and science to find alternative ways to acknowledge its consequences. The installation reproduces the same conditions of aluminium wastelands in a laboratory-sized installation. We aim to enable the observer a real-time deconstruction (or reversed production process) of a popular icon of technoculture: a MacBook Pro laptop from 2007 mainly built using aluminium.
The experiment seeks to understand the transmutative / destructive properties of sodium hydroxide, applied to the aluminium in order to give back to Earth the molecules of the junk object of our creation tools. This implies the ‘sacrifice’ of our creation tools by a kind of ‘alchemical process’ in a technocide that leads us to the formation of a new matter.
In this installation, the alkaline basin dissolves the laptop, changing it at a molecular level into a previous chemical state while producing a combustible gas. The whole deconstruction process is recorded by a camera that documents the technological ‘murder’ until it reaches a mineral state. It stores and uploads the images in a time-lapse format through an static IP address. Once the dissolution is done, an additional chemical is going to be added to neutralise the liquid milieu while potentially forming new minerals: berlinite and variscite, a sort of assemblage of aluminium, sodium and phosphates. This protocol culminates with new matter out of technological junk. In the process are generated combustible gas (hydrogen) and a synthetic fertilizer (the blamed sodium phosphate and water) that is in charge of a popular effect of algae blooming that will be used to toughen cyanobacteria Spirulina Paracas, an extremophile capable to adapt, inhabit, colonise and/or revitalise the most hardcore alkaline lands on T(t)erra.
THE XGBML PROJECT - Xeno Geo Bio Media Logics

Glossary


Terraforming (Terra- as in Earth and -forming as in shaping) is process of deliberately modifying the conditions of a planet, satellite or ecosystem to be similar to the environment of Earth to make it habitable by Earth-like life. However, as capitalism has mobilized science and engineering into productive forces that have transmuted our planet, we are now facing the alienation of Terra, what we understand as T(t)erra: the realisation of a new ecology of relations and ecosystems. We experiment the terraforming of our own Earth (re-Earthing), not as a way to come back to a supposedly “original” state but willing to challenge the means of production and care while speculating with the new materiality of the Capitalocene.
Capitalocene is the term proposed by Jason W. Moore to rename the Anthropocene: “The alternative to the Age of Man (the Anthropocene) is the Age of Capital (the Capitalocene). In this, capitalism is understood as a world-ecology, joining the accumulation of capital, the pursuit of power, and the co-production of nature in dialectical unity. “ (Jason W. Moore’s Capitalocene alternative)
Sodium hydroxide (NaOH) is a corrosive chemical. Commonly called caustic soda, or lye, sodium hydroxide is the most widely used industrial alkali.
Spirulina is an extremophile, multicellular cyanobacteria. They are aquatic organisms, typically inhabiting freshwater alkaline lakes, able to survive over a wide range of temperatures; some species are even found in hot springs. Because of they capabilities of survival in hostile conditions, they could inhabit and revitalize highly polluted ecosystems. However, there are marine species as well. A study by Chen and Pan (2005) shows that the bacteria can remove low concentrations of lead from wastewater. Research by da Costa and de Franca (2003) illustrates that Spirulina is also capable of removing cadmium from its environment (also, potentially other heavy metals too).

Protocol for NaOH Dissolution 1l


WE PUT A 1mm THICK FLAT ALUMINIUM SHEET OF 70mm * 50mm IN 1L OF H2O BEFORE START THE DISOLUTION of SOLIC NAOH TO SEE THE EVOLUTION OF THE REACTION, WE DID IT ASKING TO EXPERTS BEFORE TRYING IT, WEARING GOOGLE AND GLOOVES AND WE NEVER WENT HIGHER THAN 12,50PH! THE REACTION WITH AL STARTED TO BE COOL ENOUGH, PLEASE NOTE: IF INCREASE 1PH MORE = A LOGARITHMIQUE EXPONENTIAL GROWTH = SUPER ACCELERATION OF THE REACTION! PLEASE TAKE CARE, THIS REACTION CAUSES H2 COMBUSTIBLE GAS, MAKE IT IN A HOOD AND OPEN WINDOWS!

  • Sodium hydroxide is a common and useful strong base. Special care is required to prepare a solution of sodium hydroxide or NaOH in water because considerable heat is liberated by the exothermic reaction. The solution may splatter or boil. Here is how to make a sodium hydroxide solution safely, along with recipes for several common concentrations of NaOH solution.

Amount of NaOH to Make Sodium Hydroxide Solution

  • Prepare solutions of sodium hydroxide using this handy reference table which lists the amount of solute (solid NaOH) that is used to make 1 L of base solution.


   **Don't touch sodium hydroxide! It is caustic and could cause chemical burns. If you do get NaOH on your skin, immediately rinse it with a large volume of water. Another option is to neutralize any base on the skin with a weak acid, such as vinegar, and then rinse with water.
   **Stir the sodium hydroxide, a little at a time, into a large volume of water and then dilute the solution to make one liter. Add sodium hydroxide to water -- do not add water to solid sodium hydroxide. (We did this with an electronic PHmeter measuring everything live, we stopped at PH 12,50 as for us was enough)
   ** sure to use borosilicate glass (e.g., Pyrex) and consider immersing the container in a bucket of ice to keep the heat down. Inspect the glassware prior to use to make sure it is free from any cracks, scratches or chips that would indicate a weakness in the glass. If you use a different type of glass or weak glass, there's a chance the temperature change could cause it to shatter.
   ** Wear safety goggles and gloves since there is a chance the sodium hydroxide solution could splash up or the glassware could break. Concentrated solution of sodium hydroxide are corrosive and should be handled with care.


Recipes for Common NaOH Solutions


  • To prepare these recipes, start with 1 liter of water and slowly stir in the solid NaOH. A magnetic stir bar is helpful if you have one.

M of solution Amount of NaOH Sodium Hydroxide

	6 M	240 g

3 M 120 g 1 M 40 g 0.5 M 20 g 0.1 M 4.0 g