Create Bio-yarn




Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world. During material extraction and production stage, enormous amount of greenhouse gas and toxic waste are released out to the world. In order to solve the problem, we have to think of alternative ways to improve such unsustainable industry. I think biotech can solve the problem, and this is just a warm up to create product with some simple biomaterials.

Note: I'm not a seasoned biologist or chemist yet. So PLEASE correct me if I made mistakes.

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Step 1: Material

Some basic chemicals:

- Sodium Alginate (Alginate is a chain of polysaccharide found in the cell wall of Algae.)

- Calcium Chloride (Cures the sodium alginate. Curing means crosslinking of polymer chains.)

- Chitosan (Derived from Chitin, give some rigidity to the end product.)

- Syringe (Create yarn-like form factor.)

Step 2: Get Mixing

Mix 15% Calcium Chloride solution.

Step 3: Get Mixing Part 2

Mix 15% Sodium Alginate.

Step 4: Add Chitosan (Optional)

Add Chitosan to Sodium Alginate paste.

Step 5: Extrude!

Extrude Sodium Alginate paste into Calcium Chloride solution.

Step 6: This Is Just a Reference.

With different Sodium Alginate concentration, you can get an array of properties from soft and transparent to rigid and opaque.

Changing curing solution can also change the material property. For Sodium Alginate paste with chitosan, add Citric Acid(it crosslinks Chitosan) to the curing solution. Watch carefully to see what happens. I'm serious, because I don't know what changed. If you know the chemistry, please let me know.

Step 7: Knit It.

Just knit that thing.

Step 8: VoilĂ 

If you have an electrospinner. I believe you can spin this with lower viscosity. Something like 5% Sodium Alginate? Let me know the result.


The original research of Bioesters team from Fashion Institute of Technology.

Thanks to:

Columbia for helping with material analysis.

Genspace for offering insights on biology.

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    10 Discussions


    Question 3 months ago

    should I use salt water? Could you also please tell me what materials you exactly used (brand etc.) and how much should I use of the materials, I don't understand it because you just said 20% of something ...


    Question 12 months ago

    Is it safe to eat it? :)


    2 years ago

    What are the measurements you used?


    2 years ago

    amazing! I like it just as much as kombucha leather :) do you have any suggestions for dye? My first thought is beetroot, turmeric and chlorella but I won't be quick with starting this project..


    3 years ago

    Is this the same sort of process as making algae beads that you can use to immobilise enzymes with (for making lactose free milk, for example)?

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    This is very interesting. Does it break when you knit with it?

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    If Alginate concentration is high, then it's quite strong, but then extruding it from the syringe is a challenge, because it requires a lot of force.