Scientists Gain More Textile Potential from Silkworms

Sep 22, 2017

Researchers from the University of Sheffield have discovered that silkworms along with spiders spin silk by pulling, instead of pushing it out of their bodies. The researchers believe this technique could be adapted to the textile sector to manufacture a range of synthetic fibres in a more sustainable way, considering the process does not require high temperatures and has only water as a by-product.

Synthetic Fibres are currently made by pushing liquid feed-stock through spinnerets at high temperatures, while using chemical agents to solidify the fibre as it cools. This new discovery suggests that freshly spun silk can solidify into a fibre at room temperature while using no dangerous chemicals, leaving water as the only by-product.

Lead author Jamie Sparkes, a PhD student in the University of Sheffield’s Natural Materials Group, said: “Silk is one of the most promising green biomaterials, and could be the perfect replacement for nylon and polyester based clothing. Traditional production processes for silk is both arduous and time-consuming, but if we can bypass that by mimicking nature in an industrial setting, we could improve not only silk, but also how we process our other synthetic materials.”

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Scientists Prise More Textile Potential from Silkworms