Taking Fermentation In a Whole New Direction

Photo Credit: Bioalloy.org

We’ve all worn a little beer or wine after committing a clumsy beer foul, but researchers in Australia have figured out how to ferment beer and wine into a “fabric” they believe will provide the low-cost, environmentally friendly textile of the future.

One of the researchers go started on the project after noticing a skin-like layer covering a vat of wine that had been contaminated with bacteria. The bacteria causing the spoilage was Acetobacter, which converts wine into vinegar, but also forms cellulose, “a slimy, rubbery, soft, skin like substance” that is “chemically similar to cotton.”  They’ve into a living, fermented form of clothing.  To their credit, they are upfront about a few challenges:

One major problem with the Micro’be’ fermented fabric is that it lacks flexibility, which in turn reduces wearability. 

Ya think? The color of the fabric changes based on the alcohol used to create it with red wine producing red fabric while white wine and beer create translucent fabric. Translucent?  And that’s not all:

Also the material has a distinctive smell, smelling like a hangover or a kind of morning-after-the-night-before smell; a kind of stale alcohol aroma. It is strongly believed that this later problem will be resolved with the chemical treatments used to fix the flexibility issue.

Hmmm . . . . I’m vaguely familiar with that odor.   Something tells me those chemical treatments are going to put a damper on the environmentally friendly claims.

If you’d like to read more about this slimy, rubbery, soft, skin-like, fermented clothing that lacks flexibility and smells like a hangover, you can check out the details here.  No word on whether the clothing will hit stores in time for the fall fashion rush.