New biotechnology may bring about materials we've never seen before.
The future is moving towards “growing” rather than manufacturing materials. Such changes could force us to rethink our relationship with our products. They also ask us to reconsider how our materials exist in and interact with our living environment.
Fabrics from new sources
Cultured silk, Bolt Threads
Bolt Threads is using yeast to produce proteins found in nature, such as spider silks, for fabrics that are stronger and stretchier than other fibers. LEARN MORE
BIOCOuTURE, Suzanne lee
Fashion designer Suzanne Lee has grown clothes rather than stitching them. She uses the bacteria and yeast culture that makes the healthy drink kombucha. This practice has been so popular that some DIYers have taken to growing leather-like kombucha skins in their bathtubs. LEARN MORE
Home products made from
CHITOSAN BIOPLASTIC, Wyss Institute
Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have introduced a new bioplastic isolated from shrimp shells. The plastic is made from chitosan, a form of chitin, which is the second-most abundant organic material on Earth. LEARN MORE
living colors, PIli
Biologist Thomas Landrain and designer Marie-Sarah Adenis developed the cleanest factories ever for fabricating colorful dyes using microorganisms to replace petrochemical dyes. Microorganisms biosynthesize dyes from sugar in a fermentation process (just like beer) without solvents or need to heat at high temperatures. The dyes can then be used in a wide range of industrial applications such as the textile industry, which currently the second most polluting industry in the world. PILI is now developing these renewable dyes at an industrial scale. LEARN MORE
Self-sustaining building materials
SELF-HEALING CONCRETE, HENK JONKERS, TU DELFT
Researchers from Delft Technical University in the Netherlands have developed concrete that can heal itself with bacteria. Jonkers added colonies of Bacillus bacteria to the concrete, which remains dormant until exposed to rainwater. Once a crack forms, the bacteria releases a hard substance, calcium lactate (a compound also found in milk) to seal the gap and prevent further cracking. LEARN MORE
Banner image: Marie Sarah-Adenis, La Paillasse, Grow Your Own Ink.