Pullovers from volcanic rock

The fact that basalt is a volcanic rock doesn’t prevent some people in the textile industry from drawing fibres and manufacturing products from it. The results are sturdy and, at the same time, lightweight constructions – or, indeed, pullovers for offshore wind farms.

In the student competition ‘Textile Structures for New Building’ this volcanic rock made the rankings twice in the ‘Material Innovation’ category: once as a self-closing wall structure, rather like a blind and once as a modular building block system, called ‘stone web’. Fun-fact footnote: both projects – and another one in another category – are down to students at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee school of art: be Berlin, be Basalt! “We wanted to make something with a delicate structure from solid rock, something light, but which is nevertheless sturdy,” say the developers of the ‘stone web’, Natascha Unger and Idalene Rapp (see headline photo) in almost the same words.

Meanwhile, Techtextil exhibitors Peterseim Strickwaren from Thüringen have other ideas for the stone-based fibres – and evidently a certain empathy with the foundations of offshore wind farms. Indeed, the latter do not have an easy life. Not only does the heaving sea gnaw at them, algae and micro-organisms also enjoy nibbling away at them. That shortens both service life and maintenance intervals. “It’s better, therefore, to protect them with a basalt pullover, which will keep the little creatures at bay,” says Peterseim Managing Director, Anton Schumann. The clothing company, that usually manufactures pullovers and other knitted garments for the human body, has managed to knit basalt – up until now the stone fibres have been overwhelmingly woven. “Because we knit the material, it remains flexible in all directions,” says Schumann. As a result, the ‘basalt pullover’, which took the 2017 ‘Techtextil Innovation Award’ in the ‘New Application’ category, will mould itself perfectly round the constructional elements and adapt to the off-shore structures – including their resultant, increased service life and maintenance intervals.

Wrap up warm, little wind turbine! Because basalt fibres are of natural origin, they are also suitable to use for protective offshore ‘pullovers’ against underwater fauna

Ronny Eckert

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