Biodegradable Fabric From Methane-Eating Bacteria

1) Sustainability Problem: Fast Fashion & Global Warming

The fast fashion industry encompasses many problems: water use, labor issues/human rights, textile waste, and microfibers that end up contaminating the oceans due to breakdown during washing being a few.

Additionally, greenhouse gases, such as methane, a particularly potent greenhouse gas, are causing global warming.

2) Technology:

  • Microbes feed on waste methane and are then forced into a substance that serves as the feedstock for the bacteria.
  • Once the bacteria grows denser the PHA is harvested. It comes out in the form of a powder that then can be turned into the end product, polymer pellets.
  • The resulting fabrics created from the Mango Materials yarn are biodegradable. For example a light t-shirt would fully degrade in a month in a compost pile. If fibers end up in the ocean they would also dissolve.
  • This material reduces the amount of methane in the atmosphere and creates a biodegradable textile without the water use, labor issues, waste and ocean pollution of the textile industry.

2017-MM-Cycle-v1-1.3-twu3) Stakeholders:

  • Methane Producers
    • Wastewater treatment plants
    • Farms
    • Landfills
    • Anaerobic digesters
  • Eco-friendly fashion and textile companies who want to use the fabric

4) Deployment/Implementation

  • Increase efficiency of process for turning bacteria into a polymer
  • Test more applications of the fabric and the time to breakdown
  • Expand production sites and/or license the technology to methane producers



Comment on Smart Fabrics – no wires or batteries:

This is an interesting technology but will only really work if all fabrics have this embedded technology. If someone buys this shirt but has an emergency on any day they are not wearing the shirt the benefit is gone.


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