Home / Knowledge / News / Textiles / Silkworms spin silk by pulling: Sheffield scientists
Silkworms spin silk by pulling: Sheffield scientists
23
Sep '17
Researchers from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Material Science and Engineering have shown that silkworms spin silk by pulling rather than pushing it out of their bodies. The team suggests the process, if copied in an industrial setting, could improve how synthetic materials are processed and offer more environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Conventional synthetic textiles are made by extrusion - pushing a liquid feedstock through a dye and then using high changes in temperature and exposure to harsh chemicals to solidify. However, silk can solidify into a fibre at room temperature and leave only water - therefore causing less environmental damage.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Lead author Jamie Sparkes, a PhD student in the University of Sheffield’s Natural Materials Group, said: “Silk is one of the most promising green biomaterials, and could be the perfect replacement for nylon and polyester based clothing.Traditional production process for silk is both arduous and time-consuming, but if we can bypass that by mimicking nature in an industrial setting, we could improve not only silk, but also how we process our synthetic materials.”

Researchers examined how animals, including silkworms and spiders, push materials like silk out of their bodies.

Dr. Chris Holland, head of the Natural Materials Group, said: “While it is easy to assume that silk is propelled out of the body like we see in comic books, we wanted to put that to the test.”

He added: “By combining computer models with experimental data and practical measurements, we determined the forces needed to squeeze unspun silk down the animals’ silk gland and spin a fibre.”

Sparkes added: “We found that to spin silk by extrusion (pushing), means a silkworm would have to squeeze itself hard enough to generate more pressure than a firing diesel engine. This isn’t possible as the animal’s body would be unable to contain that pressure. It seems that you can’t squeeze silk like a tube of toothpaste.”

However, by measuring the forces required to pull silk from the animal’s body, the researchers found that it was well within the capability of the silkworm to pull a fibre, a process they refer to as pultrusion. The researchers achieved this by adapting a rheometer, a machine used normally to measure the viscosity of liquids, into a highly sensitive spinning wheel, capable of measuring the forces needed to spin.

Holland said: “If I gave you a piece of chewing gum and asked you to make me a fibre, you wouldn’t push it through your teeth as it’s too stiff. You’d grab one end and pull it out - and that’s what the silkworm and spider do.”

The research was conducted by the Natural Materials Group in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield. It has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India


Must ReadView All

Global economic upswing became broader & stronger: IMF

Textiles | On 19th Apr 2018

Global economic upswing became broader & stronger: IMF

The global economic upswing that began around mid-2016 has become...

Courtesy: ITMA

Textiles | On 19th Apr 2018

ITMA 2019 expanding space due to overwhelming response

Due to overwhelming response, the exhibition space has been increased ...

BIDA’s Europe trip to showcase a different Bangladesh

Apparel/Garments | On 19th Apr 2018

BIDA’s Europe trip to showcase a different Bangladesh

The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) is taking a...

Interviews View All

Top executives
Textile industry, India

Such fairs are a must for industry to showcase new innovations

Amit Jain
Shingora Textiles Ltd

‘In terms of fabric, the fastest growing category for us is a blend of...

Smita Murarka
Amanté

‘There is huge demand in the Indian lingerie market for non-wired styles.’

Nitesh Mittal

Kusumgar Corporates is a leading manufacturer of technical textiles and...

John Kelley

Textile Events is one of the largest textile fair in the United Kingdom,...

Riddhi Jain

Conceived in Europe and curated in New Delhi, NeceSera is a...

Kai Poehler
Voith Paper GmbH & Co. KG

The glass mat industry is growing by five to eight per cent annually. Kai...

Mark Paterson
Technical Absorbents Ltd

Mark Paterson, R&D manager of Technical Absorbents Ltd talks about Super...

Paolo Ocleppo
Sandvik Hyperion

Paolo Ocleppo, Rotary Cutting Segment manager, Sandvik Hyperion discusses...

Amiben Shroff
Shrujan

From its modest beginning in the late 1960s, Shrujan has grown into a...

Prathyusha Garimella
Prathyusha Garimella

Hyderabad-based designer <b>Prathyusha Garimella</b> is known for blending ...

Mike Hoffman
Gildan Activewear SRL

Gildan Activewear, a manufacturer and marketer of branded clothing and...

Press Release

Press Release

Letter to Editor

Letter to Editor

RSS Feed

RSS Feed

Submit your press release on


editorial@fibre2fashion.com

Letter To Editor






(Max. 8000 char.)

Search Companies





SEARCH

Leave your Comments


April 2018

Subscribe today and get the latest update on Textiles, Fashion, Apparel and so on.

news category


Related Categories:

Planning to Take the Leap towards
Sustainability?

Do you see sustainability as a route to business growth?

Yes No

Do you think the sustainability space has the needed tools and resources available for a business to lead change?

Yes No

Active Poll

Do you see sustainability as a route to business growth?

Yes
69.9%
No
12.6%
Skip
17.5%

Total Votes: 103

Do you think adopting a sustainable approach will be a profitable move for your business?

Yes No

Active Poll

Do you think the sustainability space has the needed tools and resources available for a business to lead change?

Yes
63.1%
No
29.1%
Skip
7.8%

Total Votes: 103

Do you want the world to know about your sustainability journey and your business’ environmental footprint?

Yes No

Active Poll

Do you think adopting a sustainable approach will be a profitable move for your business?

Yes
87.4%
No
8.7%
Skip
3.9%

Total Votes: 103

Thanks for your valuable feedback. Claim your free latest sustainability e-book.

Active Poll

Do you want the world to know about your sustainability journey and your business’ environmental footprint?

Yes
82.5%
No
7.8%
Skip
9.7%

Total Votes: 103


E-News Insight
Subscribe Today and Get the
Latest News Update in Your Mail Box.
Advanced Search