Brewed Protein Polymer- Genetically Engineered Fibres

Posted On October 22, 2020     

Since the last century, humankind has exploited the potentiality of artificial polymer substances. Polymeric fibres have widened the category of application which was earlier not feasible with the usage of natural fibres. Driven by a wide diversity of applications, ease of processing, and cost, the utilization of artificial polymer fibres has widened to all corners of life. These polymers are basically derived from a finite resource- petroleum feedstock. In addition to that, these polymers are considered to be incredibly robust, but they come up with the end-of-life concern. 
 
Protein Polymers
 
Protein polymers have been used constantly by nature as a structural and functional material for ages. Humans have been using natural protein fibres such as silk and keratin or wool for millennia. Natural proteins only constitute a division of the prospective polymeric materials that can be fabricated from the building blocks of protein called amino acids. Spiber, a Japanese biotechnology company, is developing brewed protein polymers by getting inspired by nature to meet the demands of the people.  
 
Spiber has developed a full-stack protein production-and-design platform that allows the users to fabricate polymeric protein stuff by getting started with an innovative idea. Taking inspiration from spider silk, a natural protein polymer, artificial polymers are designed from the genetic level. They are further fermented or brewed using microbes. The raw polymer is processed or refined into materials like plastics or fibres. 
 
Brewed protein products constitute structural proteins developed by microbial fermentation. The composition of the brewed protein polymer developed by Spiber holds the potential to be changed at even molecular level. The properties of the polymer are tuned at the processing, as well as the chemical level, to produce materials for the required purpose.

Industrial solution-spinning methods are adapted and developed to make fibres for brewed protein. The chemical composition, as well as the process parameters of the polymer, can be altered to yarn properties and tune fibres. The filament yarns are then processed using conventional textile machinery into spun yarns, woven and knit fabrics, and staple fibres.
 
Materials made up of brewed protein polymers carry the potential to tackle end-of-life concerns. The distinct properties of brewed protein polymers can be customized to befit specific application, thereby possessing the biodegradable quality as well.

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