Company initiatives, R&D

Clothing industry turns to biotech

I love the fashion industry but admittedly it is one of the most wasteful and energy-intensive industry. The global textile industry reportedly accounts for 17-20% of global industrial water pollution. Maybe synthetic biology and biotechnology can help solve this problem.

Last month, Bolt Threads, a California-based biotechnology start-up has launched a limited edition (50 pieces to be exact) knit necktie valued at $314 made from its 100% Boltspun spider silk. The material is produced via a yeast fermentation that secretes a dragline spidroin protein and through a process called wet spinning, this liquid protein is spun into fiber, similar to the way fibers like acrylic and rayon are made.

The challenge is to bring down the price while boosting scale for its spider silk materials. A single tie reportedly requires over 55 miles of synthesized spider silk filament to produce. The company is currently synthesizing protein in 800-gal fermenters, but plans to bring 53,000-gal fermenters online later this year, which will bring its protein production from hundreds of pounds to tons – the sort of production level clothing producers would need to seriously consider using the material.

I will report more biotech-related news entering the $2.4 trillion global fashion industry on a special analysis for Tecnon OrbiChem’s Biomaterials newsletter.


About Doris de Guzman

Will Green Chemistry save the world or is it hype?

Doris de Guzman examines alternative processing, new technology, R&D and other sustainability initiatives aimed at preventing pollution; replacing ingredients; and using renewable feedstocks in Green Chemistry.

She has been covering the oleochemicals market for 15 years and spread her beat to inorganics, biofuels and green chemistry.


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