Creating Fabric Materials out of Bacteria
Fast fashion is a sector of the fashion industry whereby business models rely on cheap, rapid and large-scale production of low-quality clothing. Today’s clothing is made of durable and cheap materials such as nylon or polyester. Approximately 60% of fast fashion items are produced with plastic-based fabrics. The microplastics in these garments leach into the waterways with each wash and dry. Half a million tons of these contaminants enter the ocean each year. The fashion industry is also the world’s second-largest water supply consumer. On top of it all, more than 85% of the textiles and clothing purchased will end up in landfill every year.
Modern Synthesis, a biotechnology company, has created a biomaterial made from bacterial fermentation that can be used to create a low-carbon alternative to traditional clothing fabrics. The material the bacteria produces is called nanocellulose, which the company takes from waste feedstocks, including fruit or other agricultural waste. The bacteria will grow on that sugar and naturally produce nanocellulose.
The nanocellulose fibers are very strong and so small that they create strong bonds when they stick to each other. The fibers are eight times stronger than steel and stiffer than Kevlar. With the nanocellulose, the company is creating a material similar to nylon, ripstop fabric (woven fabric made out of nylon) or a coated textile. The material is designed to feel dry and warm, resembling cellulose or paper.
The process of creating the fabric can be adjusted by using different types of thread, some of which can biodegrade, while other threads can be recycled similarly to other cellulose. The project started with the creation of a shoe. Still, thanks to the material’s versatility, the company thinks it can be a good alternative to traditional textiles as it can also be dyed and given different coatings.
They believe their nanocellulose fibers are a significantly more sustainable fabric alternative to cotton, which takes a lot of resources and energy to transform. This material creates significantly fewer emissions than traditional textiles as it only requires transforming waste sugar into usable material. While the material is not yet available for consumer use, the company offers research, development, and consultation services to help brands make better, more environmentally friendly material choices.
As the fashion industry looks for more sustainable ways to make garments, many companies are moving towards using biomaterials to create new textiles. We are now seeing leathers made from fruits and vegetables, sequins made from algae, and so much more. As fast fashion continues to be a problem, the efforts that companies like Modern Synthesis are taking will help the industry reduce its environmental impact while continuing to clothe the world.
Source Happy Eco NewsApril 24, 2023