MAY 18 - 01
NEW INNOVATION BY BOLT THREADS
Fake leather made from mushrooms
The fashion industry produces about 800 billion pieces of clothing every year. A change in attitudes and awareness to consumption by consumers are desperately needed. But above all we require innovations in the material production if we strive for a sustainable and social future of fashion. This is where Bolt Threads started nine years ago. The biotech company is best known for its "Microsilk", a synthetic spider silk that’s made through fermentation with just water, sugar and engineered yeast. Microsilk is completely sustainable, and it looks and feels exactly like traditional silkworm silk, but it’s also significantly stronger. Recently, the California-based company has introduced its second material, "Mylo", a leather-like material made from mycelium (the root structure of mushrooms), which will go to market in the form of a luxury handbag this June. To fabricate it, Bolt first sourced the mycelium cells and set them up on a dish in the lab. The cells grow by extending fibers called hyphae, which source cellulose-rich nutrients to eat. “Those hyphae, if you control the growth conditions like temperature, humidity, and CO2, make the body of this really dense fibrous network,” Dan Widmaier, founder and CEO of Bolt Threads, says. What comes out is a fibrous network, that looks very similar to the fibrous network of leather. Once the mycelium grows large enough, “we cut it into slices, and it goes through a process not dissimilar to how animal hides are tanned to become leather, except it’s more environmentally friendly,” the CEO explains. What renders the process less environmentally damaging than leather production, is in part because mycelium doesn’t rot like animal hide does, and as such, does not need to be treated with the copious amounts of salt and chemicals to prevent it from disintegrating that goes into leather production. In that sense, Mylo is similar to other biofabricated leather alternatives currently making their way to market. Modern Meadow, a New Jersey-based startup, has developed "Zoa", a liquid leather-like substance grown from collagen, which can be shaped into any form and, like Mylo, tanned to resemble leather, while eliminating leather processing’s most harmful effects. We at Cc observe the field of synthetic biology now for a long time and are again and again surprised about the plenty new possibilities and innovations, the new technology brings with it. We are very happy to be part of this new and interesting movement by consulting our clients and attending on the leading synthetic biology conferences.