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SciPop Talks! Where Science Intersects Pop Culture: Innovation in Textiles: From Garbage to Fashion

A series of talks about science in movies, books, and games.

Storify and Q&A With Yiqi Yang

Click here to see the Storify of the Event

Questions from the Audience

1.    How did you think of tying garbage and textiles together?
Many of the materials are not ‘garbage’, but not in full use at this time. In order to make textiles and materials industry more sustainable and more environmentally responsible, scientists and engineers have to think out-of box, and utilize what we have more effectively.

2.    By making fibers from organic matter, do it make the fibers decompose faster than man-made fibers?
Generally, fibers from biobased materials are more easily degradable than many of those from petro-chemicals. However, some man-made fibers/materials decompose faster than others.

3.    How long do you think it will take before some of the garments that you discussed will be on the market?
I don’t know as a scientist. It is determined by the investment and interests from the investors. At this time, US investors are slow on biobased fibers.

4.    Would people who are allergic to gluten have reactions to the cell scaffolds? Could they be made with a different source material?
Gluten is only one of the proteins which could be used to make tissue engineering scaffolds. There are many different materials which could be used to make these scaffolds. I am sure, many are appropriate for people who are allergic to gluten.

5.    Would the cost of fabric and garments you discussed be similar to that of cotton or more expensive?
Costs won’t be much different, given the fact that the raw materials are actually cheaper, at least, for now.

6.    Is there a functional limit to the percentage of the garment that can be made up of corn or rice, or is the limit mostly due to how it feels?
It also determined by what garments people want to make from these fibers. Since these are natural fibers, which are not as strong as some petro-based fibers, a blend with polyester or nylon should be ideal for making the ‘tough’ fabrics.  As discussed yesterday, hand/feel is also a consideration. For example, I won’t make underwear using 100% of corn husk fibers, just like linen.

 

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