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By
AFP
Published
Aug 3, 2015
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Switzerland: textile fibres developed from animal gelatin

By
AFP
Published
Aug 3, 2015

Researchers at the prestigious Zurich Federal Polytechnic School (ZFPS) have developed textile fibres - with features comparable to those of merino wool - that are manufactured from animal gelatin, collected from animal corpses. 

In a press release, ZFPS states that gloves knitted with gelatin-based fibres are highly comparable with those knitted with merino wool.

Gelatin is a biodegradable substance, consisting of ultra-fine fibres which scientists at ZFPS have succeeded in spinning.

On the surface, these fibres are smooth and so shiny they give the impression of being silk.

EPFZ


But they have other advantages: their insulating qualities are similar to those of merino wool.

Gelatin is produced from collagen, the main component of skin, bones and tendons. Slaughterhouse waste contains large quantities of gelatin.

In the course of his activity, Zurich researcher Philipp Stössel discovered that gelatin, when combined with a solvent, turns into a mass which allows it to be easily transformed into yarns.

Stössel then developed a method in collaboration with EMPA, the federal laboratory for materials test and research, in Saint-Gall. As a result, they produced yarns that are ultra-fine, a mere 25 micrometre in diameter, i.e. twice as thin as a human hair.

Gelatin's main drawback is that it dissolves when in contact with water. Stössel's work is now concentrated on the yarns' waterproofing, using several treatments. 

A patent was filed a couple of years ago, and the researcher is waiting to find an industrial partner to launch into mass production. 

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