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New fabrics grown in fermentation tanks could prevent tiny plastic fibers polluting the oceans



New materials grown in laboratories may be an alternative to the materials currently dumping large quantities of plastic into the world's oceans.

Synthetic textiles such as polyester are a permanent substitute for natural fabrics such as wool and cotton, but they also contribute to the trillions of microplastics that populate the world's oceans.

Concern about this form of pollution is increasing, which is known to be consumed by underwater wildlife with potentially harmful effects.


These tiny plastic shards come from many sources, but by far the most common are microfibers.

These fibers are made into one piece by thousands each time. Clothes are machine washed, and most are not trapped in filters as they flow through sewage systems.

Trillions or even billiards of these tiny shards may have already penetrated waterways and oceans.

To solve this problem, Melik Demirel led a project at Pennsylvania State University, where new fibers were grown in large fermentation tanks using the same materials as natural materials.

"We are developing different types of protein-based fibers, similar to silk and wool and so on," said Dr. Demirel.

"The problem with plastics is that they do not conform to the natural cycle [19659002] "You have to come up with something that works with the cycles of nature, and the logical answer is to use the same building blocks as nature."

If these "biosynthetic" materials shed fibers during the washing process, they would naturally collapse in the water system without damaging the wildlife.

Dr. Demirel previously presented his work as part of a panel that addresses solutions to the microplastic crisis on the Meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) have been studied journalism and subscribe to Independent Min ds

In addition to replacing plastic-based materials, he hopes to develop materials that can be used in place of fibers such as cotton, which, despite their natural properties, can have a tremendous water and carbon footprint.

In the production of beer or yoghurt, its "biosynthetic" fibers are produced in fermentation tanks containing bacteria and substances such as corn syrup as a starting material.

The next step is to scale this process to compete with the millions of tons of cotton and other textiles produced each year.

"We can produce kilograms, but we still can not produce tons," said Dr. Demirel.


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