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Nylon is a popular synthetic fiber in the fashion industry, not only for hosiery which may what first comes to mind, but also for blouses, dresses, tights, underwear, raincoats, swimwear and more. However, the making of nylon is all but sustainable. Until now. Sunthetics are working towards a greener process of making nylon where plant waste and the sun plays an important part.

Winner 2017

The innovation in a nutshell

Harvesting the sun’s energy to make fashion fabrics.

More in detail

The process of making traditional nylon is energy and water intensive, it emit greenhouse gases and pollutes the air. Chemical engineering professor Miguel Modestino and professor Sophia Haussener looked to the sky and came up with the idea of solar textiles – a production process for nylon that uses only water, plant waste and solar energy.

“Nylon is made via reactions that require electricity. That allows us to incorporate solar cells into the chemical production process,” explains Miguel. “Instead of using petroleum as the raw material, we can use biomass,” he continues, explaining that in this way the clothes will bind greenhouse gases from the plant waste instead of releasing it into the air.

“The Global Change Award has served as a platform to showcase our work within the broader fashion and materials industry. This has led to multiple connections that helped us better understand the nylon market, and has propelled our commercialization endeavours.”

Miguel A. Modestino

Team members: Miguel A. Modestino, Sophia Haussener, Daniela Blanco, Adlai Katzenberg and Saurab Tembhurne
Country: USA and Switzerland