Modern Synthesis, a biomaterial innovation company that develops radical and regenerative material solutions for the fashion industry, is joining others in the use of nanocellulose. Studies show that bacterial nanocellulose is the core of building a uniquely versatile material that can replace a variety of animal and petrochemical-derived materials.
Based in London, Modern Synthesis has currently raised over four million dollars in seed funding, allowing the company to build a pilot facility in Southwest London and increase their capacity to scale their materials made from bacterial nanocellulose.
Modern Synthesis’ technology leverages the bacterias’ capability to transform sugar from agricultural waste into nanocellulose, a fine and strong form of cellulose. The company’s biomanufacturing platform merges the bacterias’ growth patterns with cutting-edge textile production techniques to create a new range of natural nonwoven materials that have “a distinctive look, feel, and performance potential”.
“Fashion needs to decarbonize its existing supply chains in the short term. But equally, we need new materials and systems that holistically address key challenges related to emissions like plastic and chemical pollution.” says Jen Keane, CEO.
As the building block for most plants, cellulose is one of the most abundant polymers on the planet, making it low-cost, biodegradable, and adaptable to many different applications. Its fibres are 8 times stronger than steel and stiffer than Kevlar. When grown by bacteria, the material results in a tightly packed mesh of fibres so small they appear like a transparent film.
While working on her Central Saint Martins MA project in 2018, Keane grew the upper of a shoe with bacterial nanocellulose and one continuous yarn. She collaborated with scientists from Imperial College London, including Dr. Ben Reeve, now CTO of Modern Synthesis. Reeve says the possibilities are exciting because “not only are these bacteria very naturally efficient, but we are able to innovate from the organism level to tailor the uniquely versatile material they produce.”