Photo from Spirit Halloween
Here’s one way to feel closer to the Little Mermaid without taking a swim with her at Expo: wear clothing made out of seaweed! Professors at a Science and Technology forum held in Shanghai this week revealed that “kelp fiber” spinning technology has been developed and “kelp clothing” could enter the market next year.
Professor Xia of Qingdao University explained that laboratory tests have found that kelp, a brown algae, is rich in seaweed fibers. Those fibers have considerable strength and may be even sturdier than cotton.
It also beats out cotton in some other unexpected areas as well: not only can it incorporate different metal ions – causing it to have antibacterial and “anti-electromagnetic radiation” properties, but it’s also inherently flame-retardant, making it a possible alternative for fire protective clothing.
Plus, it’s better for the environment and makes use of an otherwise untapped resource. In fact, the way Professor Xia talks about it, seaweed seems like an ultra-green miracle fiber. Firstly, it doesn’t compete for land resources like cotton, hemp and animal fibers… and it doesn’t compete for oil resources like synthetic fibers. Secondly, it’s biodegradable – all its waste can be dissolved in water, and it can even be processed to absorb heavy metals to help control pollution. It sounds almost too good to be true – a little fishy in fact – though I have yet to find any articles debunking Professor Xia’s claims.
One ton of dried kelp can produce roughly 2000 square meters of “seaweed fabric,” making it about two to three times the cost of cotton. Xia said they were working on lowering the cost to become even more competitive.
Allegedly, China is the largest producer of seaweed in the world, cornering over half of the existing seaweed market – Qingdao and Shanghai, especially, could expect a great boom in business if it catches on. And we can soon be donning eco-friendly dresses that can weather the tides of fashion!