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H&M-backed startup puts bacteria to work in green dyeing process

STOCKHOLM/NORWICH, Britain: A British biotech startup is growing a way of textile dyeing that faucets into the brilliant colors of birds and butterflies and has micro-organisms recreate them on material, slashing using water and heavy chemical compounds within the course of.

Based mostly within the English metropolis of Norwich, Colorifix has attracted backing from the enterprise capital arm of Swedish style large H&M.

“We’re harnessing the flexibility of microbes on this case to have the ability to deposit and repair a pigment on to material,” Colorifix Chief Scientific Officer Jim Ajioka instructed Reuters.

Frequent dyeing, with artificial pigments, entails giant concentrations of hazardous chemical compounds resembling chromium and different heavy metallic salts and consumes huge quantities of power and water, with contaminated wastewater an enormous supply of air pollution.

Colorifix stated its technique makes use of no hazardous chemical compounds and cuts water use by as much as 90% relying on tools, pigment and material, and is carried out at decrease temperatures than widespread dyeing.

Jars of bacterial dye in a laboratory at biotech firm Colorifix in Norwich, Britain.Jars of bacterial dye in a laboratory at biotech agency Colorifix in Norwich, Britain.

Consumers’ rising consciousness that attire is likely one of the top-polluting industries is pushing image-conscious retailers to deal with the environmental influence of their garments’ full life cycle. The dyeing stage has one of many greatest.

Colorifix, like French rival PILI, harvests a color gene in nature and inserts it right into a bacterial cell, tricking it to refill with the color in addition to duplicate. In Colorifix’s dyeing course of, cells bounce onto the material and launch the dye on it, after which the answer is briefly heated as much as kill them.

Chief government Orr Yarkoni stated Colorifix is about to launch industrial-scale trials in partnerships with style teams, together with H&M, and textile producers resembling Switzerland’s Forster Rohner and India’s Arvind. The assessments might be carried out at dye homes already supplying these manufacturers.

“For the primary pilots, I hope we’ve got every part up and working by Christmas. We’re beginning on a number of websites concurrently in Portugal, Italy and India,” Yarkoni stated.

If these are profitable, Colorifix expects to launch commercially its 5ml batches of microbes bulging with color, in 2020.

Challenges embrace creating new hues on demand, sustaining requirements of present processes and protecting prices down.

“The H&M group and Colorifix have been in India this summer time to, along with our manufacturing organisation, see how we are able to develop the method in order that it may be utilized to our manufacturing,” H&M spokeswoman Jeanette Mattsson stated. “Given our dimension it takes extra work to allow a scalable answer.”

Colorifix’s different backers embrace Swiss funding agency Challenger 88 and Cambridge College. Reuters

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