Sweet deal: Yarn made from molasses is first 100% plant-based polyester

A Japanese company has created a polyester yarn derived completely from bio-based materials.

Typically, polyester is made from a process extremely reliant on oil. It is non-biodegradable and produced from petrochemicals in an energy-sucking, heavily polluting process that takes up large quantities of water and uses harmful chemicals.

Eco-friendly yarn certainly isn’t a new concept, but bio-based materials of the past were still comprised of 60% oil-derived chemicals. For textiles claiming to be environmentally healthy, their high fossil fuel content is far from impact-free.

The new yarn, by chemistry multinational Toray, is changing that as the first polyester made entirely from plants. The company creates the yarn using a bio-polymer of molasses—yes, the same molasses as the sweet, thick syrup you can bake with.

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The molasses is sourced from sugar production factories in India and Brazil, where it is a natural and plentiful bi-product. By using molasses instead of fossil fuels, Toray is cutting down on waste from these facilities and using a biodegradable, eco-friendly material.

The technology to create this plant-based polyester is still in development, meaning that the yarn can only be produced on a small scale and is not yet ready for distribution to the masses.

However, Toray has announced that it will begin to use bio-polymers in its textiles instead of making 100% petroleum-based polyesters as a way to jumpstart sustainable practices within the industry.

They will also continue development of the bio-based polyester yarn until it can be made in larger quantities and sold commercially.

“Our vision is to achieve polyester production without using crude oil resources, as Mother Earth’s gifts need to be protected,” stated Kojo Sasaki, a member of Toray’s Green Innovation Team.

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Fashion today is constantly changing, and meeting the high demand for new styles fashions entails an ever-increasing rate of textile consumption that is reaching unsustainable levels.

Clothes have become disposable even as the materials we use to produce them grow more and more scarce.

As a result, the textiles industry is one of many contributing to the climate change that threatens to reshape the environment as we know it.

Slowing this process will require a major shift in our cultural mindset from throwaway to sustainable fashion, and this plant-based polyester is a step in the right direction.

Creating new yarns from plants could help reduce environmental impact by eliminating the use of fossil fuels and replacing them with more sustainable materials.


Steve “Woz” Wozniak to advise hologram emoji company that he calls “groundbreaking”

Apple’s co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak has found himself a new gig; Woz has joined the hologram emoji company, Mojiit, as an adviser.

In his role as advisor to Mojiit, the legendary entrepreneur and engineer will help assemble a world-class engineering team in addition to bringing investors and partnerships to the newly launched startup. Wozniak will also serve as mentor to Mojiit founder, Jeremy Greene.

“I’m thrilled to join Mojiit as an advisor,” said Wozniak. “Jeremy is a natural leader, the company is groundbreaking, it’s going to change the ecommerce space, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Created in 2017, Mojiit is the latest startup technology venture from Greene. The company’s tech essentially enables users to project and share 3D hologram emojis via smartphones.

The platform turns users into emojis by scanning their face, which can then be sent to loved ones and friends. Once a Mojiit message is received, it will map the area where it is received and place the Mojiit hologram there in real time, so it works in a similar way to Pokemon Go.

“Steve is one of the best and brilliant engineers in the entire world. But outside of that, he’s a wonderful man,” said Greene. “There isn’t anyone I’d want to be in business with more than this guy. He’s a legend. Who better to learn from than the guy who created the computer?”

Image courtesy of Nichollas Harrison. Featured image courtesy of Mojiit

In addition to consumer use, businesses of all kinds can tap into hologram emojis with Mojiit’s technology.

Mojiit investors already  include NFL alum Ed Reed, and the company was able to raise a total of $1 million in its seed round of funding.

Alongside the appointment of Woz, Entourage and Ballers producer Rob Weiss recently joined the company as a creative director.

“It’s exciting to expand beyond television and film to digital platforms,” said Weiss. “Hologram technology brings incredible opportunity to entertainment and media. I’m thrilled to be leading creative at Mojiit.”

Nanoengineers send antibiotic-delivering micromotors into the body to treat cancer-causing infection

Nanoengineers have demonstrated for the first time how “micromotors” that measure half the width of a human hair can be used to transport antibiotics through the body.

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego tested the micromotors in mice with Helicobacter pylori infections, which can also be found in about two-thirds of the world’s population and while many people will never notice any signs of its presence it can cause peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.

The mice received the micromotors – packed with a clinical dose of the antibiotic clarithromycin – orally once a day for five consecutive days.

Afterwards, nanoengineers evaluated the bacterial count in each mouse stomach and found that treatment with the micromotors was slightly more effective than when the same dose of antibiotic was given in combination with proton pump inhibitors, which also suppress gastric acid production.

Micromotors administered to the mice swam rapidly throughout the stomach while neutralising gastric acid, which can be destructive to orally administered drugs such as antibiotics and protein-based pharmaceuticals.

Because gastric acid is so destructive to traditional antibiotics drugs used to treat bacterial infections, ulcers and other diseases in the stomach are normally taken with additional substances, called proton pump inhibitors.

But when taken over longer periods or in high doses, proton pump inhibitors can cause adverse side effects including headaches, diarrhea and fatigue. In more serious cases, they can cause anxiety or depression.

The micromotors, however, have a built-in mechanism that neutralises gastric acid and effectively deliver their drug payloads in the stomach without requiring the use of proton pump inhibitors.

“It’s a one-step treatment with these micromotors, combining acid neutralisation with therapeutic action,” said Berta Esteban-Fernández de Ávila, a postdoctoral scholar in Wang’s research group at UC San Diego and a co-first author of the paper.

The nanoengineers say that while the present results are promising, this work is still at an early stage.

To test their work, the team is planning future studies to into the therapeutic performance of the micromotors in animals and humans, and will compare it with other standard therapies used to combat stomach diseases.

UC San Diego nanoengineers also plan to test different drug combinations with the micromotors to treat multiple diseases in the stomach or in different sections of the gastrointestinal tract.

Overall, the researchers say that this work opens the door to the use of synthetic motors as active delivery platforms in the treatment of diseases.

Image and video courtesy of the Laboratory for Nanobioelectronics at UC San Diego.