We recently had Peter Ingwersen, founder of Noir on record, saying, “Technology will save us all. I think that man-made fibers are truly amazing and will be the new hot thing in eco-materials. We will all need to overcome our prejudice that natural made fibers are more eco-friendly.”
Not to worry, Peter, you know as well as I do that there are mad scientists, I mean pioneers, out there pushing the boundaries for all kinds of fabrics. Take this new one made from tea, of all things.
The fabric is grown in a soup of green tea, sugar and other nutrients, over the course of several days. Bacteria is then added to the solution to produce “long filaments of cellulose that clump together to form thin mats of fabric that float on the top of the mixture. Once dried, this becomes become see-through and similar in appearance to papyrus. However, it can be treated, dyed and molded to produce different textures and effects,” says the UK’s Daily Telegraph.
The project is led by Suzanne Lee, a senior research fellow and designer at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, who has already used the material to make clothes. This has inspired Professor Paul Freemont and Professor Alexander Bismarck, materials experts at Imperial College in London who are furthering research on the fabric “using synthetic biology techniques by introducing the genes needed to produce these cellulose sheets into other bacteria.” More details are outlined on the project’s website, Bio-Couture.
There’s just one problem: While the fabric is extremely tough, apparently it really stinks.
“It doesn’t have a very nice smell at the moment though because it is produced by bacteria, but we are trying to overcome that. There is still some way to go before it can be used as a standard item in the high street,” says Freemont. “These are projects we need to think about because of the impending resource shortages we face and one thing we are not short on is bacteria.”