What happens when you take a bag of sweaty hockey gear and throw it in a vat of beer for a week? I’m not sure (although I’m sure this must have been tried before), but a researcher and an artist at the University of Western Australia are trying their own fermented fashion experiment. Using a common vinegar-producing bacteria, Acetobacter, Gary Cass and Donna Franklin create mats of bacterial cellulose which can be shaped and dried to create garments.
The material is more than a freakshow novelty, however. Cass is currently working on medical applications for dressing wounds with microbial cloth. He touts its properties of low-porosity as beneficial for keeping wounds sterile, its transluscence for being able to monitor the wound’s healing, its ability to adhere to the skin without tricky adhesives, and its 100% biodegradability. He even has a student using this cloth as a scaffold of sorts to grow an artificial liver outside the body.
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