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Biopolymers from bacteria protect technical textiles

Hida Winkle is a tech blogger from Ohio with a degree in mass communication and a gift for writing. She is the editor-in-chief of Hida’s favorite subjects are technology and building art. She is also a huge fan of Anime and Manga.


Feb 23, 2024

By Bettina Reckter

Reading time: approx. 3 minutes

To date, technical textiles have mostly been made windproof, waterproof or more abrasion-resistant using petroleum-based chemicals. Researchers from Denkendorf have now found a bio-based alternative.

Biopolymers from bacteria protect technical textiles | Biopolymes from Bacteria DITF 1 1 scaled 313x0 c default
Researchers fill a squeegee with melted PHA using a hot glue gun.
Photo: DITF

Biopolymers, produced by bacteria from renewable raw materials and, if possible, recyclable, could make the use of petroleum-based chemicals such as polyacrylates or polyurethanes unnecessary in many technical applications. A team from the German Institute for Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf (DITF) is researching polyamides made from amino acids and polyesters such as polylactic acid or polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA), all of which come from renewable raw materials.

PHA is an umbrella term for a group of biotechnologically produced polyesters that are particularly interesting for medical applications. More and more PHA products are coming onto the market, which is why they could also be increasingly used for coatings in the technical sector.

Reading tip: Polyester fibers made from CO2

Bacteria produce polyhydroxyalkanoates in the bioreactor

If you feed certain bacteria with carbohydrates and fats, they produce CO in a bioreactor2-containing atmosphere and under a light source with an adapted wavelength polyhydroxyalkanoates via their metabolism. If the molecular structure of these compounds is modified, molecules with very specific properties can be created. This makes water-repellent PHA interesting for coating technical textiles and outdoor clothing.

Reading tip: Non-toxic alternative found for industrial applications

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