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

Egypt working with industry to restore cotton reputation

Textiles | On 22nd Aug 2018

Egypt working with industry to restore cotton reputation

Egypt’s agriculture ministry is collaborating with the industry there ...

Courtesy: Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Textiles | On 22nd Aug 2018

Pakistan's textile exports stable in July 2018

The value of textile and garment exports from Pakistan remained...

Courtesy: Lifestyle

Apparel/Garments | On 22nd Aug 2018

Lifestyle to invest up to ₹200 cr on 20 new Indian outlets

Chennai-based Indian apparel retailer Lifestyle, which operates...

Interviews View All

Evelyne Cholet
UCMTF

‘France had a reputation of being big in new ideas, but poor in marketing...

Yash Maniyar
Rekha Maniyar

Indian fashion market is growing at a staggering rate

Veronique Lee
Modavanti

‘Sustainable fashion is trending upwards, slowly but surely, as people...

Rajat Jaipuria

Activewear brand Soul Space promotes organic cotton farming and...

Siddhachakra Weaving (Badiya Fashion)

Ahmedabad-based Siddhachakra Weaving Pvt Ltd was established in 2011 under ...

Kamal Kulshreshth

Colorjet is among the fastest-growing wide format digital inkjet print...

Giorgio Mantovani
Corman S.p.A

Giorgio Mantovani, MD of Corman, with a presence in both Milano and New...

Kerem Durdag
Biovation II LLC

Kerem Durdag, CEO, Biovation II LLC, provides an insight into future...

Ayyappa Nagubandi
Broadcast Wearables Pvt Ltd

Hyderabad-based Broadcast Wearables has come up with the country's first...

Pranav Mishra
Huemn

Designers Pranav Mishra and Shyma Shetty’s Huemn is known for its...

Ritu Kumar
Label Ritu Kumar

‘Classics will return’ "There are a lot of people wearing western clothes ...

Bani Batra

Bani Batra’s couture wedding collection is inspired by traditional Indian...

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


August 2018

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

news category


Related Categories:

Advanced Search