Throughout the years, growing concerns over environmental and water resources have pushed textile manufacturers to seek out alternative and sustainable dyeing practices.
Now, scientists in Canberra may have come up with the ultimate solution by developing a new kind of colored cotton that removes the need for dangerous chemical dyes altogether and, as an added bonus, could also make garments wrinkle-free.
To do so, researchers from a high-tech greenhouse in Canberra have cracked cotton’s molecular color code. This means they simply add genes to make the plants produce a variety of colors.
For now, the new colored cotton is just a series of Petri dishes with plant tissues, which come in colors from bright yellow to deep purple. It will take a few months to see if the tissue will grow into actual colorful plants, but it looks very promising.
A positive sign of potential success is that when the colored cotton genes were inserted into green tobacco plants, they showed up as colored splotches on the leaves. As the researchers point out, if the leaves are colored, it means that the fiber will be too.
This was when the scientists knew they were on the right path. Now, they are focusing particularly on the black dye, the most harmful and damaging dye of them all.
What’s more, the team doesn’t limit their work to colored cotton. They are also working on producing wrinkle-free textiles. This might seem like an impossible task but the researchers are well on their way to creating fabric that does not require ironing. Pretty neat, huh?