The idea of creating fibre from gelatine dates back more than one hundred years, a fibre with similar properties to merino wool has been created by a PHD student StÃ¶ssel at the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich from gelatine gathered from slaughterhouse waste which included skin, bone and tendons.
StÃ¶ssel discovered that adding an organic solvent to an aqueous gelatine solution resulted in a formless mass that he was able to press into an elastic thread.
Working with the materials science laboratory EMPA in St Gallen, StÃ¶ssel refined his method to a point where he was able to produce 200 metres of thread a minute, twisting 1,000 fibres into a yarn, from which he was able to knit a glove.
The extremely fine fibres are half the thickness of a human hair, and microscope images show them to be filled with cavities, which researchers think may account for their good insulation properties, similar to merino wool.
StÃ¶sselâ€™s continuing research will examine how to make the fibre more water-resistant; at the moment sheepâ€™s wool is still superior. But the
Commercial production of the new fibre will only be possible if researchers can find partners and funding, said StÃ¶ssel.
In recent years there has been an increased demand for natural fibres made from renewable, biodegradable fibres.
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