The Grass is Always Greener: Biocouture

An innovative approach to textile technology is unfolding with this technique that harnesses nature’s forces.
“BioCouture is a research project harnessing nature to propose a radical future fashion vision. We are investigating the use of microbial-cellulose, grown in a laboratory, to produce clothing. Our ultimate goal is to literally grow a dress in a vat of liquid…The material is nearest in feel to a vegetable leather and, like your vegetable peelings, it can be safely composted when you no longer want it.”

Suzanne Lee is Director of the project and a Senior Research Fellow at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. She is collaborating with scientists to unite design with cutting edge bio and nano-technologies.

BioCouture is investigating the use of microbes to grow a textile biomaterial. Certain bacteria will spin microfibrils of pure cellulose during fermentation which form a dense layer that can be harvested and dried. To a sugary green tea solution they add a mixed culture of bacterial cellulose, yeasts and other microorganisms to produce a flexible cellulose mat. The bacteria feed on the sugar and spin fine threads of cellulose. As these start to stick together they form a skin on the liquids surface. After two to three weeks, when it is approximately 1.5cm thick, they remove the cellulose skin from the growth bath. They can then either use it wet to mold onto a 3D form, like a dress shape, or dry it flat and then cut and sew it into a garment.
Lee is the author of ‘Fashioning The Future: tomorrow’s wardrobe’ published by Thames & Hudson.http://www.biocouture.co.uk/



GraphExeter: New Graphene-based material invented.


A University of Exeter team has discovered a lightweight, flexible and transparent material for conducting electricity.
The new material, called GraphExeter, could transform the electronics industry with the development of wearable electronic devices, such as clothing containing computers, MP3 players and phones. GraphExeter can be used for creating windows or smart mirrors along with computerized interactive characteristics.

Graphene, a one-atom-thick substance, is the thinnest material that can conduct electricity. It is flexible as well as one of the strongest materials. For quite some time, engineers and scientists have been on the race to adapt graphene for electronics. This process has been a challenging one for them due to its sheet resistance, which confines its conductivity.

The Exeter team compressed ferric chloride molecules between two sheets of graphene in order to create GraphExeter as a possible alternative to ITO. The team is now working on creating a spray-on version of the material that can be applied onto windows, mirrors and fabrics.

Dr Monica Craciun, the lead researcher at University of Exeter, said that GraphExeter can redefine the electronics industry. He also said that the material outperforms other types of carbon-based transparent conductor utilized in electronics and can be used for different applications.

The research findings on GraphExeter are published in the journal called Advanced Materials.
By Cameron Chai
Source: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/

Apocalypse 101: Blizzard Blanket

REFLEXCELL is a unique material that with its triple ply construction and use of reflective foil material offers TWICE the warmth-to-weight ratio of goose down! The construction is also elastic due to the crimping and thus contours to the body therefore optimizing its warming effect. Too bad it doesn’t feel as cozy as down but when the chips are done and you’re in Survivor mode, this is definitely the way to go. Besides, it comes in fun shades like optimal orange (visibility) and army green (camouflage) alongside spacy silver.
Following exhaustive in-house testing and trials performed by the US Army Institute of Surgical Research, the Blizzard Survival Blanket has been endorsed by the US Army Medical Center Directorate of Combat and Doctrine Development and is the only blanket used to train Army medics in the treatment of hypothermia.
Don’t leave home without it…
More at BLIZZARDSURVIVAL


Red Dot Design Concept Winner: Base Impact Jersey



Designer: Riley Sanders

BASE IMPACT JERSEY
The Base Impact Jersey is an unobtrusive solution to personal protective equipment specific to snow sports. It reduces the chance of serious injury occurring, while still allowing the user to perform at their peak without being restricted by their equipment.
A personal snowboarding injury was the inspiration for an investigation of the issues surrounding personal protective equipment (PPE) specific to snow sports. The project was an attempt to develop an improved product that will reduce the chance of serious injury occurring to a skier or snowboarder while maintaining comfort and mobility.
Research methods including focus groups and one-on-one interviews with snowboarders, skiers, and industry-related professionals highlighted the need for more refined PPE specific to snow sports. The study helped the designer to understand the most common injuries that occur during snow sports, how the injuries have occurred, and the best methods for their prevention. It was made evident through the research that there was a lack of PPE that could provide sufficient support to the user upon impact while maintaining their freedom of movement and comfort.
The solution was Base – an upper-body personal protective system specific to snow sports. The patented Base protective material was developed to assist with the prevention of unnatural movements of jointed body parts. The material consists of two main components: the displacement hexagons, which determine the overall locking angle of the material, and the flexible clipping layer that holds the displacement hexagons in place. The material has been utilized in the Base Impact Jersey to protect the elbow from overextension, the shoulder from dislocation, and the back from hyperextension.

Rumplestilskin: The Art of Spinning Gold


True luxury has only one color – gold. A nanometer-thin layer of pure gold now lends ties and pocket handkerchiefs that authentic gold sheen, thanks to a new Empa-developed process. The yarn, which is coated using a high-tech plasma process, is soft and easy to weave. It is also washing machine compatible. A limited number of gold ties will be placed on the market before Christmas, making a truly exclusive present. Further fashion accessories will follow in 2012.
Caption: Tie, bow-tie and pocket handkerchief made of high-tech gold fabric. Plating: 8 grams of 24 carat pure gold for 7500 Swiss Francs.

Gold radiates with a violet hue, at least when it is sprayed onto a surface atom by atom, as can be seen by looking into a plasma coating plant when in operation. This particular plant, which is about as large as a household refrigerator, can be found on the premises of the Tersuisse spinning mill in Emmen. Inside the apparatus a piece of gold is bombarded with fast moving argon ions which knock atoms off the metal surface. These gold atoms fly off and land on a polyester fiber which is slowly pulled through the machine. This is the beginning of the production process which for the first time in the world creates a textile material permanently coated with a durable layer of gold. The precious metal remains attached to the fiber even when it is rolled, kinked, woven in a loom and given a final wash.

The culmination of 10 years of research work
The textile specialists at Empa in St Gallen had been researching for ten years to find a method of finely dividing titanium, aluminium, steel, copper and silver and then allowing these powdered metals in atomic form to rain onto polyester fibers. Originally the project aimed to create silver coated fibers, for which there were ready markets. Silver coated fibers possess an antibacterial effect, something which is of interest to sock manufacturers. In addition fashion designers were seeking durable silver coated textiles. And furthermore, silver conducts electricity extremely well, making the Empa-developed fiber eminently suitable for use in various sensors and as an antistatic filter material for industrial applications.
Sooner or later the project partners had the idea that what was possible with silver might also work with gold, so in January 2010 they began work on the “Gold Fiber Project”. Nowadays production in the coating plant has reached a stable level. The first kilometer was generated in the summer of 2011 and in 2012 production is expected to increase further. Further processing of the fiber is completed by two project partners, the Weisbrod-Zuerrer AG spinning mill in Hausen am Albis and the embroidery firm Jakob Schlaepfer in St. Gallen.
The Jakob Schlaepfer company, embroiderers and manufacturers of decorative textiles, will also use the gold yarn for items in its Winter 2012/13 Haute Couture collection.

Please Sir, May I Have Some More?

The AeroShot Pure Energy delivers a fine powder containing vitamin B and 100 mg of caffeine that dissolves instantly in the mouth. That’s around the same amount of caffeine found in one large cup of coffee … without the calories or coffee breath.
Tom Hadfield from Breathable Foods mission statement is “to bring the aesthetic experience of aerosol cuisine to commercial markets.” It can even be taken on an aircraft.

With the new shots, Le Whif and AeroShot, along with the AWOL, means it’s now possible to enjoy some chocolate flavor, get yourself inebriated, then try and sober up with a jolt of caffeine – all without food or beverage actually passing your lips…
see more here: AEROSHOT

Jannis Hulsen: Design



Fresh, innovative approaches to age old questions are what become benchmarks. German designer, Jannis Hulsen does just this in marvelous ways. Here is his explanation for the bio-tech stool: Xylinum is a research project that poses the question: what could future materials and production processes be like? The title Xylinum is the name of the bacterium which produces an artificial cellulose material. This bacterium counsumes sugar and builds a cellulose fibre structure around any given form. Since the process takes place in a nutrition liquid, the wet material can be dryed later on, resulting in a durable and 100 % biodegradable material. The properties of this material can be adjusted by changing the genetic code of the organisms. In collaboration with the company Jenpolymers, a technique was developed to create a »skin« around a wooden stool frame, forming the coating and seating surface.
More at: Jannis Hulsen

TYVEK + MAU

by Tisha Leung

Mau, a design company and nickname of its founder Marian Schoettle, reinterprets wardrobe staples in Tyvek® for a collection of garments known as post-industrial folk wear. Ranging from a ruffle coat to dresses to a unisex anorak and accessories that include market bags and other totes, the artist (her previous work includes sound and light installations, teepee space modules for the Smithsonian) uses the featherweight material to make the entire line—most garments weigh less than 300 grams (about ¼ of a pound).

The high-performance non-woven material, increasingly borrowed from the building and advertising industries and repurposed in clothing, consists of 25% recycled content and can itself be recycled. In addition, Tyvek®offers both water resistance and breathability.

The upshot makes for provocatively innovative and easy-to-wear garments, combining artisanal patternmaking and art-infused details (which she’s known for) with the high-tech fabric.

  Both functional and conceptual, some come crushed inside carry bags, which also softens the material and requires little more than a simple smooth out for wearing. And many of the garments are reversible, going from either white or cement gray.  Made in the garment district of NYC under the auspices of theGarment Industry Development Corporation, the organization recycles all design and cutting room scraps and uses surplus materials from local computer, automotive and snowboard industries.
MauClear.jpgMauWhiteJackets.jpgMauJacket.jpg

AEROGEL, NANOGEL, LITRACON MATERIALS OF OUR FUTURE

Aerogel in hand (Pic: Nasa/JPL )

UPDATE:Hugo Boss created a line of winter jackets out of the material but was pulled because they received complaints that it was too hot. The same complaints surfaced for some mountaineering boots developed for a climb up Mount Everest. Even Dunlop, a racket sports company, is currently incorporating the material into their tennis and squash rackets to deliver more power and strength.Green, strong, light, protective and relatively easy to make, scientists need only to figure out how to better regulate temperatures when used.

Nanogel is Cabot Corporation’s trade name for its family of silica aerogels. Although aerogel was first invented 75 years ago, Cabot has been producing Nanogel aerogel since 2003 at its state-of-the-art plant in Frankfurt, Germany. Cabot is the only company to develop a commercialized process that allows continuous production of the material under ambient conditions. This process allows control of the material’s porosity, pore size and distribution, and bypasses the high-cost traditional method of super-critical drying, so that Nanogel can be manufactured in a safe and continuous manner.

Easily adapted for a wide range of applications, including:

 

 

Key characteristics*:

Extremely low thermal conductivity

9-12mW/mK

High porosity

95% air, 5% solid

Nano-sized pores

20-40 nanometers

High surface area

~750m2/g

Very low tap density 

30-100kg/m3

High oil absorption capacity (DBP) 

540g/100g

Specific heat capacity Kj/Kg .7-1.15

Variety of particle sizes 

5 microns-4mm

Surface chemistry 

Completely hydrophobic

Opacity

Translucent, IR opacified and opaque

Aerogel, one of the world’s lightest solids, can withstand a direct blast of 1kg of dynamite and protect against heat from a blowtorch at more than 1,300C.

Scientists are working to discover new applications for the substance, ranging from the next generation of tennis rackets to super-insulated space suits for a manned mission to Mars.

function slideshowPopUp(url) { pictureGalleryPopupPic(url); return false; }

It is expected to rank alongside wonder products from previous generations such as Bakelite in the 1930s, carbon fibre in the 1980s and silicone in the 1990s. Mercouri Kanatzidis, a chemistry professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, said: “It is an amazing material. It has the lowest density of any product known to man, yet at the same time it can do so much. I can see aerogel being used for everything from filtering polluted water to insulating against extreme temperatures and even for jewellery.”

Aerogel is nicknamed “frozen smoke” and is made by extracting water from a silica gel, then replacing it with gas such as carbon dioxide. The result is a substance that is capable of insulating against extreme temperatures and of absorbing pollutants such as crude oil.

It was invented by an American chemist for a bet in 1931, but early versions were so brittle and costly that it was largely consigned to laboratories. It was not until a decade ago that Nasa started taking an interest in the substance and putting it to a more practical use.

In 1999 the space agency fitted its Stardust space probe with a mitt packed full of aerogel to catch the dust from a comet’s tail. It returned with a rich collection of samples last year.

In 2002 Aspen Aerogel, a company created by Nasa, produced a stronger and more flexible version of the gel. It is now being used to develop an insulated lining in space suits for the first manned mission to Mars, scheduled for 2018.

Mark Krajewski, a senior scientist at the company, believes that an 18mm layer of aerogel will be sufficient to protect astronauts from temperatures as low as -130C. “It is the greatest insulator we’ve ever seen,” he said.

Aerogel is also being tested for future bombproof housing and armour for military vehicles. In the laboratory, a metal plate coated in 6mm of aerogel was left almost unscathed by a direct dynamite blast.

It also has green credentials. Aerogel is described by scientists as the “ultimate sponge”, with millions of tiny pores on its surface making it ideal for absorbing pollutants in water.

Kanatzidis has created a new version of aerogel designed to mop up lead and mercury from water. Other versions are designed to absorb oil spills.

He is optimistic that it could be used to deal with environmental catastrophes such as the Sea Empress spillage in 1996, when 72,000 tons of crude oil were released off the coast of Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

Aerogel is also being used for everyday applications. Dunlop, the sports equipment company, has developed a range of squash and tennis rackets strengthened with aerogel, which are said to deliver more power.

Earlier this year Bob Stoker, 66, from Nottingham, became the first Briton to have his property insulated with aerogel. “The heating has improved significantly. I turned the thermostat down five degrees. It’s been a remarkable transformation,” he said.

Mountain climbers are also converts. Last year Anne Parmenter, a British mountaineer, climbed Everest using boots that had aerogel insoles, as well as sleeping bags padded with the material. She said at the time: “The only problem I had was that my feet were too hot, which is a great problem to have as a mountaineer.”

However, it has failed to convince the fashion world. Hugo Boss created a line of winter jackets out of the material but had to withdraw them after complaints that they were too hot.

Although aerogel is classed as a solid, 99% of the substance is made up of gas, which gives it a cloudy appearance.

Scientists say that because it has so many millions of pores and ridges, if one cubic centimetre of aerogel were unravelled it would fill an area the size of a football field.

Its nano-sized pores can not only collect pollutants like a sponge but they also act as air pockets.

AND MORE…

LiTraCon

Áron Losonczi, a Hungarian architect, laid glass fibres into structural concrete blocks before they set, rendering the light ethereal and see-through.

Nanogel

Used to insulate spaceships 30 years ago, Nanogel — sound absorbent, insulating and light transmitting — is now sandwiched within building facades.

SmartWrap

American architects have invented a new façade material made from paper-thin, polymer-based film, stuffed with air gel pockets for insulation. It can be attached with flexible solar cells and LEDs, printed with patterns and wrapped around a frame.

Electrochromic glass

We already have glass that becomes opaque by running an electric current through it. More sophisticated versions change reflectivity, glare, colour and opacity: entire glass-clad buildings might act like Reactolite sunglasses, and reducing the heat gain and loss that can make glass so energy inefficient.

Responsive environments

Spaces that communicate with their user have been one of architecture’s dreams since the Sixties. One day walls will be soft, embedded with sensors and IT, so that walls become like skin, buildings like bodies. Coating walls in nanotechnology devices is being explored too, for instance to make surfaces self-cleaning — or coating them in electronic ink so that a wall becomes one giant LCD screen. The first small SmartSlab panels will emerge in the next three years.

Carbon fibre

Imagine a skyscraper, 40 storeys high, with a helical shell entirely woven by robots from IT-embedded carbon fibre, like a cocoon. The LA architects Peter Testa and Devyn Weiser are pioneering the transfer of carbon fibre technology to architecture. Most of their projects, like the Carbon Tower, remain speculative.