When algae and rock collide
Musical superstars lined up next to Superstars of STEM at Splendour in the Grass.
It’s not what you typically expect to find as part of a musical festival line-up – a tent full of algae complete with its own ‘crew’.
The Deep Green Forest tent was a new draw at this year’s Splendour in the Grass, Australia’s premier outdoor music festival, attracting thousands of people keen to soak up an oxygen-rich environment and learn more about how these microscopic organisms can play a role in a more sustainable future.
Algae harvest the energy of the sun to grow, soaking up carbon dioxide and then releasing oxygen to the atmosphere.
By 2050, it’s expected between three and five ‘earths’ will be needed to feed and sustain the global population. Festival goers attending the event at the North Byron Parklands were encouraged to absorb sustainability science by making their own algae hand scrub, growing their own algae leaf, and taking part in oxygen meditation.
Dr Alex Thomson, who manages the Deep Green Biotech Hub (DGBH), said “The algae cells generated by the installation during the festival can be returned to the earth and used as fertiliser to help restore the environment.”
Will, a music lover turned algae enthusiast from Melbourne, said he learned a lot from his experience in the Deep Green Forest tent. ”I wouldn’t have thought an ocean plant, a river plant, a freshwater or saltwater plant, would be used as a fertiliser on land, using your carbon dioxide to actually grow,” he said.
UTS startup MyImpact was also part of the team, showcasing its new app that enables people to track their carbon footprint.
"It’s an amazing feeling to get validation on such a big platform in the beginning stages of the app. Countless hours spent working on it was all worth it. This opportunity has been a boost to our confidence and we feel highly motivated moving forward," said founder and UTS alumni, Shivam Mehndiratta.
Outside the tent was an opportunity to interact with the UTS Living Lights installation that debuted at Vivid Sydney in 2018. Made of living, breathing algae, the installation used LED lights to emphasise the plants’ colours and contribute to the festival’s vibrant atmosphere.
If you missed out this year, there's good news. Talks are underway for a repeat performance in 2020. Stay tuned!
About the Deep Green Biotech Hub
The New South Wales Deep Green Biotech Hub (DGBH) dares to turn the state of NSW deep green through the application of algae biotechnologies and Australian innovation. Located at the University of Technology Sydney, the DGBH brings together researchers, SMEs (small to medium enterprises), industry, start-ups, students and other stakeholders to propel NSW to the forefront of algae-based biotechnology innovation in Australia.