Cows seem to have taken the center stage in the world, specifically because of the bodily gases they release. After New Zealand announced its intentions to impose taxes on farmers for the burps and farts their cattle generate, a start-up in the United States has decided to turn those gases into clothing.
The startup in question is Mango Materials, which has been founded by Stanford Ph.D. holder Molly Morse, In a conversation with Geosphere Packaging, Morse revealed that her company uses methane to make bio-based fibers as an environment-friendly alternative to the polyester used in clothes and the plastic that is used to package the items.
Mango Materials uses methane released from biogas waste to turn it into PHA (polyhydroxyalkanoate), a biodegradable biopolymer. “Well, we’re competing against conventional plastics. These are materials that are produced at very high volumes and at very low cost — and they have amazing properties,” she said.
Mango Materials CEO explains the process
“Methane [a major contributor to global warming], is the key component in natural gas, it’s produced by wastewater treatment facilities, landfills, agriculture, and abandoned coal mines. We use waste methane to feed bacteria that produce PHA,” she told the outlet.
Elucidating the process, Morse said, “We can formulate the P3HB for very specific applications. You can make polyethylene into lots of different forms: you can mold it, you can extrude it into a fiber. PHA is the same way.” She also noted that her company is attempting to tackle two existing problems at once. “One, that of waste methane — what are you going to do with it? And two, the persistent pollution of plastics, when they’re improperly disposed of or when they’re no longer needed,” she concluded.