Jelly Clothes? Researchers Find Way to Turn Gelatin Into Fabric

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Researchers are figuring out how to make clothes out of jelly.

According to a new report that appears in the American Chemical Society’s journal Biomacromolecules, scientists are working on a way to spin gelatin, which is used in desserts such as gummy bears and mousses, into yarn that can be made into clothing.

According to a new report that appears in the American Chemical Society's journal Biomacromolecules, scientists are working on a way to spin gelatin, which is used in desserts such as gummy bears and mousses, into yarn that can be made into clothing.
According to a new report that appears in the American Chemical Society’s journal Biomacromolecules, scientists are working on a way to spin gelatin, which is used in desserts such as gummy bears and mousses, into yarn that can be made into clothing.

“Sustainability, renewability, and biodegradability of polymeric material constantly gain in importance,” the study’s abstract reads. “A plausible approach is the recycling of agricultural waste proteins such as keratin, wheat gluten, casein or gelatin.”

Researchers take gelatin filaments, spin them, and twist them into yarn, which they treat with gaseous formaldehyde and wool grease to make it water resistant.

“To demonstrate the applicability of gelatin yarn in a consumer good, a gelatin glove with good thermal insulation capacity was fabricated,” the study’s abstract reads.

The gelatin yarn produced this way is as strong as merino wool, and provides the same level of thermal comfort.

What’s best about this research isn’t the innovative things it’s going to do to the fashion world, but the benefit to the environment. Since gelatin come from livestock by-products, it could provide a new use for agricultural leftovers that can lower the environmental impact of the textile industry.

Each year, Americans generate 250 million tons of garbage, discarding about 68 pounds of clothing per person. Yet, about 99% of the discarded clothing that gets thrown away in the United States could have been either be recycled or reused.

Over 100 years ago, the textile industry started using protein fibers from animals and vegetables such as the casein found in milk or the zein found in corn to make new types of materials. However, synthetic fibers made from petroleum products quickly became far more widely used. Now, consumers are searching for greener, more environmentally sustainable clothing alternatives, a demand which the gelatin fabric answers.

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