Company mimics spiders to create shiny faux silk that is 1,000 times more energy efficient

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By mimicking the way a spider spins silk at room temperature, a company at the University of Oxford has created a high-performance biodegradable textile that is 1,000 times more efficient than current methods of making synthetic fabrics, which emit tons of carbon.

Institute of Biomimicry

Over millions of years, spiders have developed the ability to create one of the strongest and most adaptable materials in the world: silk.

The secret to a spider’s ability to create silk lies in its spinnerets, a specialized organ that turns the liquid silk gel in the spider’s abdomen into a strong thread.

After years of research into this unique mechanism, Spintex has succeeded in mimicking the incredible ability of the spider: the company has created a process for spinning textile fibers from a liquid gel, at room temperature, with water and biodegradable textile fibers as the only products.

Last week, the non-profit Biomimicry Institute awarded British researchers $ 100,000, naming Spintex the winner of this year’s Ray of Hope Award, which honors the world’s best nature-inspired startups.

“By learning from nature, Spintex creates new products, materials and processes that solve fundamental challenges of sustainability,” the press release reads.

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“The textile industry is looking for sustainable technologies and solutions that will reduce waste, greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and enable a circular economy. Spintex is ideally positioned to replace not only silk used in fashion, but also synthetic fibers derived from petroleum. As they evolve, their goal is to expand their textile capabilities, creating high performance textiles with properties, such as stretch and integrated color, while creating textiles that are biodegradable and non-bioaccumulative. “

Over 50% of silk’s environmental footprint is in the processing of the raw material, which uses thousands of liters of water that has to be boiled every day, so it’s very energy intensive. Currently, there is no sustainable alternative to traditional silk.

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“Spintex provides the only truly sustainable option for silk production that can produce fibers with the quality, performance and luster of traditional silk,” the company website states. “Room temperature processes completely remove the high energy costs seen in the silk industry, while providing an equivalent or better product.”

“Going through the Ray of Hope program has been a fantastic experience,” said Alex Greenhalgh, CEO and co-founder of Spintex. “We are all deeply honored to have been selected as the 2021 award winners and are very grateful for the opportunity given to us. “

GNN has contacted to find out when sales will begin, but has yet to receive a response.

In addition to fostering the growth of top nature-inspired startups, the Biomimicry Institute hosts a cool website called AskNature.org, which is a free online tool that contains strategies found in nature and examples of how they are. used in the design.

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