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