Team:BNDS China/Human Practices



Aiming to develop an environmental-friendly and economical sustainable artificial leather using experimental designs, we use bacterial cellulose and modify it with different structural proteins to improve its quality. The process of making this bacterial cellulose involves the choice of materials, the manufacturing method, and the propagation of our products. In order to achieve each step, we have consulted many organizations and experts in the related industry. By interviewing a home-brewing Bistro, we learned about the use of beer yeasts, which are the source of our project. Through the talk with Mr. Gong Bin, we’ve discovered the similarity between the re-shaping process of ancient papermaking and the formation of cellulose fibers. We’ve also got to understand the methods for the promulgation of products with the help of interviewing the large material industry DuPont. These connections largely helped us in conducting improvements for our design and making reflections of our project.


Although chemically synthesized materials differ largely from the bio-synthesized material. Market-wise, they are all products with different characteristics. We learn from the best in the industry, DuPont Inc. for their excellence in novel high-technology material product development and how to implement those strategy to market. Also, by learning the pros/cons of traditional chemical synthesized material, We are able to make up with our shortcoming, differentiate our product with traditional product with differentiate strategy.


Millions of ideas/research outcomes have been published each year, but little of them would actually make it into real life, not to mention actually become a viable product. In the end, what our project is trying to make is a novel viable material with similar characteristics to current materials. With an ultimate goal of establishing a brand-new replacement for conventional materials, and actually make it into a real-life product. To get more expertise in turning a research product into real life. We’ve contacted the leading innovator in the material industry: DuPont. With its famous Tyvek and Kevlar material is widely used in our real-life, DuPont is an expert at turning ideas into commodities. Although its main focus is on the chemical synthesis of materials, we’re able to get to know the basic pathway of implementing a research product into real-life products. We’ve also got to know some current materials’ advantages and disadvantages.

Q & A

We’ve got in touch with the general manager of the research and development department of DuPont, Chen Zhihong for his advice.

Q1: Considering the environmental protection of energy, is the energy consumed by technologies such as flash steaming in the production process of Tyvek economical and effective? Is the cost reasonable?
As for energy consumption in the production process, it will be calculated at a very early stage. Dupont will have a strict process for evaluation in this aspect.
Q3: Beyond environmental protection, how did DuPont expand its use after inventing new materials like Tyvek?
The development and application expansion of new materials is a long process, and most of the time it is market-oriented. Dupont has A lot of application engineers doing this. Take Tyvek for example, the current application scope covers protection, construction, and medical packaging, including clothing and bags.
Q5: When “releasing” a brand new material, how would DuPont evaluate its application and decide to implement this material into which industry?
During the development of a brand new product, there’s a team of specialists in DuPont that will evaluate the characteristics of the material AND the demand of the market. With all the information gets, and different strategies like SWOT analysis, etc. Generally speaking, this is a quite comprehensive process. Some factors that we consider like, cost of production, demands of the industry with special marketing research, pricing, and popularity among targeted customers.
Q2: Does full life cycle environmental protection mean recyclable or biodegradable?
The basic raw material of Tyvek is PE. The current recycling ways of PE can all be used for Tyvek. Therefore, its waste disposal is recyclable and cannot be degraded naturally at present.
Q4: For general civil materials, what are the characteristics of the materials when considering their application?
Take Tyvek® materials as an example. Dupont ™ Tyvek ® Tyvek ® brand material is DuPont scientists invented in 1955, is the use of flash DuPont patent spun-bonded technology made of high-density polyethylene material, combining with the characteristics of the paper, film, and fabric, with a waterproof, breathable, qualitative light, strength, tear resistance, durability, high reflectivity, anti-ultraviolet radiation, easy to printing and processing, environmental protection and other excellent material properties. Tyvek® materials come in two different configurations: a hard structural material like paper and a soft structural material like cloth.
Improve and implementation

In our conversation with DuPont, We had a general overview of the material industry’s current situation. Confirmed our strategy of environmental friend with the information that all the “enviroment friendly” chemically synthesized material are not in essense bio-decompoable. (After they burnt down, they’ll be water and carbon but stay as plastic and being microplastic without proper and expensive process).

Also, we’ve learnt the lifecycle of a product from design to mass production. Although the detail of customer research and product orientation is trade secrets, the information that is able to share with us has given us a picture of how to orient our product. We’ve set our main application to clothing industry after followed the expert’s suggestion of a SWOT analysis and a rough research. And our further development path of all the accessories.

Beer Yeast

As we go through the interview with an expert at the home-brewing bar/bistro and are armed with the amount of useful information about the beer dregs, we have realized that by using the method that is widely applied today to dispose of the beer dregs will cause a negative impact on the environment and people's lives. Besides, the two kinds of beer residue are not being maximal utilized, thus generate redundant wastes that could be prevented with proper disposal. In that case, it’s indispensable for our team to provide a new waste disposal method of the beer yeasts -- bacterial fermentation for our brand-new environmental-friendly material. Meanwhile, beer yeasts will be one of the carbon source collections of our project among other carbon sources that our team planned to research in the future.


Manufactural leathers that can be commonly seen at the market worldwide are leaving consumers negative impressions due to their low qualities and their unacceptable impact on the environment during their process of production. While customers simultaneously do not prefer the corium of animals. Because people commonly do not have the aspiration to hurt animals in order for part of their body. In this sense, our product’s ultimate goal is to provide a brand-new environmental-friendly material that can be the alternative of the leathers, which is also cost-efficient. Since our project involves the mass production of bacterial cellulose, we need to apply large-scale fermentation. Though it is a matter of no concern in a lab environment where we’re qualitative testing the production of bacterial cellulose, the percentage yield and amount of culture media used could be an essential influence factor when we promote our product to the market as a novel material option along with conventional products (leather, cloth, nylon, etc. ) Previous scientific reports have suggested a brand-new culture media (Yamanaka mathematically optimized ethanol media, YME), in which the consumption of yeast extract is extremely high (50g/L).

Table 1. HS media, Y media, and YME media recipe per litter (1L)
Figure 1: the beer which the bar provides
Figure 2: the lady answering our questions
To improve the overall competitiveness of our bacterial cellulose on market, and to propose a novel eco-friendly way of bacterial fermentation, we plan to search for an alternative nutrition component. There are many protocols on the internet that have proposed the process of converting beer yeast into yeast extract. With the support of that, we hope to conduct an interview with the brewing industry to find out whether there is enough beer yeast available for us to use. Meanwhile, we are considering whether our project can provide a new waste disposal method for the winery.
Figure 3: the lady answering our questions
Figure 4: the lady showing us her beer
In order to enhance our understanding of related fields, we found an expert on the subject at the home-brewing bar/bistro in Beijing's 798 art center. Besides regular products like tea, hand drip coffee, ice drip coffee, Her bar/bistro sells multiple kinds of beers, such as the Lager, Ale, IPA, and Stout, etc, all high-quality draught beers that originally invented from China or imported from abroad.
Q & A
Q1: Whether there will be beer yeast produced during the brewing process?
The waste such as malt will be produced during the process of saccharizing and washing the distillers' grains. During the boiling process, after adding hops will also filter out some of the hops residues. As a result, the entire wine-making process produces a lot of waste residue.
Q3: How can you dispose those beer yeast?
As the malt waste is relatively dry, the final treatment method is to put it into the kitchen waste directly; Because yeast carcasses are sticky, they are usually flushed straight down the drain.
Q5: Whether beer yeast can be a limiting factor of the beer production?
The resulting residue can be a limiting factor. Because when the residue is produced, a lot of wine is also taken out, so it can actually occupy a very small proportion of the output. The big brewers use the same standards when they dispose of waste, which means that all of this nutritious beer waste ends up wasting.
Q2: What are the most common type of beer yeast?
The most common type of beer yeast is seen on the market is yeast, but in alcoholic and very sweet wines, malt makes up a greater proportion of the residue.
Q4: What are the bad influences that beer yeast make to people’s daily lives?
Wine-making waste needs to be cleaned up quickly, or it can stink and attract bugs, which interferes with People's Daily lives. Nor it is possible to feed animals or plant flowers on beer residue, which can be hazardous.
Figure 5: the lady answering our questions
Figure 6: the facilities for brewing beers

Through this interview, we learned that the beer dreg, malt, and hops waste residue is significant for our project. We also found that the treatment of the two kinds of waste residue today is wasting the recourse in a large scale; in accordance with the ordinary way dealing with the beer, dreg will be harmful to the environment significantly as well, influencing lives in a bad manner. Those are two of the negative impacts of the method that is widely applied today to dispose of the beer dreg, which can be eliminated by introducing a better method -- bacterial fermentation for our brand-new environmental-friendly material; Therefore, we’re planning to add these kinds of beer dreg in the Carbon Source Collection of our project among other carbon sources that our team planned to research in the future.

Paper Making

From the interview with Mr. Gong Bin, an expert on Chinese ancient papermaking, we learned that there’s a similarity between the re-shaping nature of papermaking and the production of bacterial cellulose. We’ve also got to expand our view on the variation of materials and the artistic values of our production.


As our desired product for the project is to use dynamic cultivation to produce bacterial-cellulose to adhere to a disk with a net-like structure. Considering the unshaped nature of the cellulose production, we have related the utilization of unshaped materials in the craft of ancient papermaking. Transforming handmade papers from tree barks (woody bast fibers) through a series of technical flows, ancient papermaking is transforming the intangible pulp into the various shaping of paper.

Ancient papermaking, or traditional papermaking, is one of the “Four Great Inventions” of ancient China. These inventions greatly promoted the development of politics, economy, and culture in ancient China, and they were spread to the West through various approaches and had a huge influence on the history of world civilization. Papermaking was invented by Cai Lun, a eunuch court official of the Han Dynasty. The technique processes woody bast cellulose fibers in water through a series of crafts and finally forms papers in different thicknesses and sizes.

Figure 1: Mr. Gong Bin welcoming the interviewers into his workshop

We were lucky to contact Mr. Gong Bin, the expert of ancient papermaking, as our interviewee to learn more about the craft of papermaking. Mr. Gong Bin has studied ancient papermaking for over 10 years and he is the founder of Decheng Royal Paper Supply. He also co-founded the Chinese Paper Research and Development center and contributed to the conservation and restoration of ancient Chinese papers.

Q & A
Figure 5: Mr. Gong Bin answering questions and demonstrating different types of papers
Figure 2: Mr. Gong Bin answering our questions;
Figure 3: The drying of paper;
Figure 4: Mr. Gong Bin answering questions and demonstrating different types of papers
Figure 5: Mr. Gong Bin answering questions and demonstrating different types of papers
Figure 2: Mr. Gong Bin answering our questions;
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Q1: What are the most important steps in the process of papermaking that determines the shaping of the paper?
First, the different types and intensity of the beating would determine the shaping of the paper. Beating is the shaping of pulps using artificial tools to determine the scale and size of the paper. The ancient method places pulps into frames to make them into thin sheets. The crafts are relatively easy to complete but they are slow in time. As techniques developed through time, the crafts began to allow the manufacture of multiple sheets of paper at the same time, which improved the efficiency of papermaking. Then the methods of drying also shape the papers. These include shades drying and artificial drying.
Q3: In our project, we are aiming to strengthen the tenacity of our cellulose as much as possible. Comparing with papermaking, what are the processes that could make paper tenacious?
The tenacity of paper produced mainly depends on the material used to produce the paper. For example, the tissue paper and the printing paper that we normally use are made of different materials to fulfill different purposes. The printing paper can be stretch from all directions, but it cannot be folded because there will be obvious wrinkles. The tissue paper, instead, is only stretchable in one direction and could be ruptured easily in the perpendicular direction. However, it could be folded and could dissolve in water to meet the usage requirements.
Q2: What are the steps that are most likely to make mistakes to cause a decrease in the quality of the final product?
The organization of materials may cause a difference in the thickness of the paper. The arrangement of the fibers requires specified techniques, and it may affect the balance of distribution of fibers on the papers. The force required for pressing the paper would also influence the final quality: if a strong force is exerted to a wet paper, the paper will likely rupture. Lastly, during the process of artificial drying or natural drying, if the paper did not get heated evenly, there will be wrinkles forming on the surface.
Figure 6: Woody bast cellulose fibers
Improvements and implantation (adjustments and adaptations)

After the interview and discussion with Mr. Gong, we feel that we have learned a lot about ancient paper making and we could use these pieces of knowledge to improve our project. Mr. Gong acknowledged that our way of production of bacterial-cellulose is a derivative of the papermaking process. Our re-shaping nature of the original materials corresponds with the process in papermaking that involves the shaping of pulp into sheets of papers. He also provided us novel viewpoints of choosing the appropriate material. We now can consider our characterization from different aspects. Mr. Gong also expanded our view on the aesthetic application of bacterial-cellulose. We might consider not only the practicality of our products but also the aesthetical nature and different designs of our creation.


Through the interview with Mr. Gong Bin, we have refreshed our understanding of environmental protection and sustainability. Mr. Gong mentioned that non-degradable materials are not necessarily bad. Objects that are made of non-natural-degradable materials could last for a relatively long time so that they are more sustainable. Environmental protection does not have to mean that we need to make all materials degradable and recyclable, because this still involves the consumption of a large number of resources. The more preservable of the materials, the fewer resources that humans need to consume. Therefore, the goal of our project is to create long-lasting bacterial cellulose that could be brought to mass production to achieve the goal of environmentally friendly and sustainable.