STARIOT : Sustainable straws, greener future
The Sustainable Transition to Automation, Robotics and the Internet of Things (STARIOT) project is part of a new category of manufacturing; the manufacturing of products from residual waste streams in social cooperations, set in sustainable, local production and consumption systems in Greece.
In this case, the main resource is wheat stems, otherwise known as what’s left over from the harvest of wheat, as well as reed stems. Wheat stems are considered the most important agricultural residue in the EU, culminating in 144 million tonnes per year. While part of the stems needs to be left on the field for soil regeneration, around 30-60% can be removed without affecting soil quality. In turn, leaving the steams on the fields causes the soil to become damaged, as the stems often gets burnt, resulting in high emissions. The stems are durable and heat resistant, offering the possibility to turn them into biofuel chemicals, eco-friendly resins, and bio chemicals for cement production or bio-plastics. However, interestingly, these applications downcycle the value of the resource, making use of the chemical compositions rather than the structural qualities. The manufacturing SME in this project, Staramaki, turns the wheat stems themselves into unique drinking straws.
The STARIOT project will focus on professionalising the production of wheat stems, as well as creating more opportunities for products made from said wheat stems. To achieve this, the Staramaki factory will be upgraded with industry 4.0 technology, allowing for data analysis in the harvesting, transport and production processes, with the support of technology provider CommonsLab.
To expand these possibilities further, the artist Gilbert Sinnott will look at how algorithms can contribute to exploring the edges of the possible for this agricultural residue stream, taking as a starting point the constructional qualities of the stem. The algorithm the artist will develop will investigate how polyhedral mathematical forms can serve as blueprints for wheat stem product models.
The STARIOT project expected outcomes are a factory fit for scaling, through data-driven production and algorithm-driven product development of wheat stem agricultural waste products. Some specific expected outcomes are:
- Growth of Staramaki SCE by up to 100% in next 2 years
- Production cost to drop by 60% to about 0.03€ per piece