Innovators from a US fashion college have developed a method to grow biodegradable textiles using live organisms.
Here at Springwise, we have published many textile innovations such as a US startup that designed sheer tights using bulletproof fibres to ensure snag-proof wear. Another textile innovation is biodegradable clothing grown using waste methane. Now, a team of students at Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, led by assistant professor Theanne Schiros, have developed a method to grow textiles using algae. Biodegradable clothing offers an array of environmentally-friendly benefits, from reducing waste in landfills to lowering levels of pollution.
The team at Fashion Institute of Technology have created a yarn-like fibre from algae. To make the fibre, the team extracts alginate, a sugar found in a type of algae seaweed called kelp. They powder the alginate first and then turn it into a water-based gel. The last step is turning the gel into strands of fibre. To dye the fibre, the team uses non-chemical pigments, for example crushed insect shells. The fibres can then be knitted into various clothing items.
Strong and flexible, the fibres show potential as a marketable bioengineered textile for clothing. In addition, the fibres are naturally fire-resistant and biodegrade faster than cotton. Following the success of the project, Theanne Schiros has now launched a biomaterials company with her colleague Asta Skocir, called AlgiKnit. Together, they hope to one day produce clothing made from algae on a commercial scale.