Jan 13, 2009

Fashion - Clothes from chicken feathers?

Washington: Ever thought of wearing warm, cozy sweats made of chicken feathers or jeans made of wheat? Well, get ready to make some room in your wardrobe for clothing made from such durable new fabrics that are "green" and environmentally friendly

Researchers in Australia have made advances paving the way for such exotic new materials, which are made from agricultural waste or by-products

The new fabrics are set to hit the shelves as environmentally friendly alternatives to the estimated 38 million tons of synthetic fabrics produced worldwide each year.

Headed by Andrew Poole, Jeffrey Church and Mickey Huson, the study noted that scientists first produced commercial fabrics made of non-traditional materials - including milk proteins, peanuts, and corn - almost 50 years ago.

While these so-called "regenerated" fabrics had the look and feel of conventional protein-based fabrics such as wool and silk, they did not turn out to be too viable when wet.

The researchers said that this problem, combined with the advent of petroleum-based synthetic fibres, caused the production of these unusual fabrics to stop.

As there are concerns about the environment and consumer demand for eco-friendly products, scientists have claimed that renewable fabrics made from non-traditional agricultural materials are now poised to make a comeback.

They suggested that promising fabric sources include agricultural proteins, such as keratin from scrap chicken feathers and gluten from wheat.

Scientists have described advances in nanotechnology and chemical cross-linking that can improve the strength and biodegradability of these fabrics.

This could pave the way for commercial production of eco-friendly clothing, furniture upholstery and other products.

The study is published in a recent issue of ACS' Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal.

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