Algae-Based Bio-Fabric

Andrea Strang/als2380

Summary of Problem:

Emissions from clothes manufacturing, which has increasingly become more rapidly and mass-produced with the rise of fast-fashion, now results in more carbon emissions than aviation and shipping combined. The clothes manufacturing industry also uses enormous amounts of water and energy, and in return produces harmful byproducts such as toxic wastewater and micro-plastic pollution. A majority of fast-fashion garments produced wind up discarded within only a few years.

Technology Solution:

In a Big Step Towards Sustainable Fashion, Scientists Create a Biodegradable, Carbon-Capturing Textile From Algae, Anthropocene Magazine: Daily Science https://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2021/05/algae-could-help-make-the-fashion-industry-green/

  • A research team from the Delft University of Technology and the University of Rochester have made an algae-based bio-textile material that is resilient and easy to produce for the large-scale production of clothes and labels.
  • The production of algae takes up much less land and requires much less water and energy than conventional natural materials such as cotton, wool or silk. In fact, because the algal bio-textile material is made of algae, clothing made from it would be photosynthetic, absorbing carbon dioxide from the air and breathing out oxygen. Additionally, algal bio-textiles are a biodegradable alternative to synthetic fabrics.
  • Algae on its own is not a long-lasting material, but the scientists were able to utilize 3D printing to make a more resilient material. Scientists used bacterial cellulose as the paper in a 3D printer and an ink made of live micro-algae to deposit the living algae onto the cellulose.

Stakeholders:

  • Clothing manufacturers who are looking to minimize their impact on the planet and establish themselves as a sustainability-minded brand.
  • Fabric producers who pursue the development of this type of algal bio-textile over other natural (cotton, silk, wool) or synthetic alternatives.

Next steps:

  1. The 3D printing technology needed to develop the algal bio-textile will have to be bolstered to a level that can sustain large-scale production.
  2. Research and development must be focused on how the use of bio-textiles might affect the clothing manufacturing process as well as supply chain and distribution processes.
  3. Public awareness campaigns and advertising will help to get the word out about how algal bio-textiles could help to mitigate some of the environmental and natural resource issues associated with fast-fashion.

2 thoughts on “Algae-Based Bio-Fabric

  1. This is really interesting and exciting, thanks for sharing! Two questions I am left with after reading the article that surround the fungibility of bio-textiles with conventional materials:

    1) What is the cost of producing these textiles? Are these commercially viable yet?
    2) What is the versatility of the material? That is to say – is it easy to work with (and many types of clothing can be created from it), is it comfortable?

    emt2179

    Like

  2. Producing a biodegradable fabric, carbon-capturing, and in large quantity would be a great accomplishment. My questions are 1) How would these fabrics compare to other fabrics being used in the industry today (strength/ drape)? And 2) How expensive would it be to produce? That being said, this is definitely a step in the right direction.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s