Researchers have discovered that the defensive slime exuded by hagfish may be a source of high-performance protein fibers that could replace petrochemical-based polymers, such as nylon and plastic fibers, and fabrics woven from them. (Source: Wikimedia Commons/Peter Southwood)
A fascinating article, Ann. It never fails to impress me the lengths researchers will go as well as the creativity they use to find sources in nature for new materials and energy sources. It also shows just what an impressive force nature is and how complex it can be for humans to try to recreate natural materials, even with great ingenuity.
Ann, my point is that the bacteria need to feed on someting and the specific needs will dwtermine exactly what that feedstock winds up being. As with most discoveries, the moving from a laboratory operation into a production environment is the bigger part of the task. Sometimes the adaptation to production winds up being the show-stopper.
I couldn't agree with you more, Nadine, about the name "fish slime". It's pretty gross. William, for industrial production levels the proteins would eventually be created by bacteria, as stated in the article. The current work is figuring out the best process for creating them to ensure sufficient strength and stiffness.
NASA and Boeing developed a huge, carbon composite cryogenic fuel tank for deep space missions, and started testing it last month. The 18-ft cryotank will enable heavy-lift launch vehicles to send both humans and robots into deep space.
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