;
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

Courtesy: Global Fashion Agenda

Apparel/Garments | On 23rd Jan 2019

Global Fashion Agenda releases CEO Agenda 2019

Highlighting the urgency of combating climate change, non-profit...

USTR aims for more balanced trade in US-EU trade talks

Textiles | On 23rd Jan 2019

USTR aims for more balanced trade in US-EU trade talks

In negotiations for a trade agreement with the European Union (EU),...

Courtesy: Ayotunde Oguntoyinbo/SMART

Textiles | On 23rd Jan 2019

EU lacks sufficiently stringent regulations: SMART

Despite the European Union (EU) having a wide range of...

Interviews View All

Rahul Bhadani, Looksgud

Rahul Bhadani
Looksgud

Navigating through catalogues is a bit hasslesome

Kaizad Hansotia, GetNatty

Kaizad Hansotia
GetNatty

Competition is the best thing that can happen to a startup

Nishank Patel, Shri Dinesh Mills Limited

Nishank Patel
Shri Dinesh Mills Limited

Broad range of fabrics will sell well this financial year

Paolo Crespi,

Paolo Crespi

For.Tex is an Italy-based leading producer of dyes and thickeners, and is...

Pratik Agarwal,

Pratik Agarwal

Breya is a brand of Indo-Western clothes for women owned by ABP Apparels...

N Nithyanandan,

N Nithyanandan

Incorporated in 1999, Purani Textiless Private Limited is one of the...

Melissa Tate, University of New South Wales

Melissa Tate
University of New South Wales

<div><div><div><div><b>Melissa Tate</b>, a well-known scientist currently...

Robert Erichsen, Statex Produktions & Vertriebs GmbH

Robert Erichsen
Statex Produktions & Vertriebs GmbH

Statex Produktions &amp; Vertriebs Gmbh, founded in 1978 and headquartered ...

Giulio Cesareo, Directa Plus SpA

Giulio Cesareo
Directa Plus SpA

Established in 2005, Direct Plus SpA, is one of the largest producers and...

Samar Firdos, Arvind Ltd

Samar Firdos
Arvind Ltd

<b>Samar Firdos</b>, Chief Manager (Design) at Lifestyle Apparel Denim...

Sonam & Paras Modi, SVA

Sonam & Paras Modi
SVA

Sonam and Paras Modi's Sva Couture is synonymous with head-turning...

Amiben Shroff, Shrujan

Amiben Shroff
Shrujan

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

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


January 2019

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

news category


Related Categories:

Advanced Search