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Aussie Researchers Are Turning Jeans Into Joints

by: Lucy Jones | 1 year ago | News

The Project 1 Jeans in Black. Take a closer look here

Your old denim jeans could help someone walk again, literally! Researchers at Victoria's Deakin University have figured out how to turn denim into a material that could be used for joint reconstruction. Dr Nolene Byrne and PhD candidate Beini Zeng are the jeaniuses behind the discovery. The scientists have made an aerogel from dissolved denim. This low-density material can be used in cartilage bioscaffolding, water filtration and as a separator in batteries.

Dr Bryne, the lead researcher on the project, said that it was possible to extract this material from denim because of the cellulose in cotton.

"Cellulose is a versatile renewable material, so we can use liquid solvents on waste denim to allow it to be dissolved and regenerated into an aerogel, or a variety of different forms," Dr Byrne explained. 

"Aerogels are a class of advanced materials with very low density, sometimes referred to as 'frozen smoke' or 'solid smoke', and because of this low density they make excellent materials for bioscaffolding, absorption or filtration." 

Dr Wren Greene, who helped run tests on the denim aerogel, said the structure of the material is very similar to that of cartilage tissue. 

"The remarkable similarity in the pore network structure of these aerogels and cartilage tissues enables these materials to replicate a special type of 'weeping' lubrication mechanism used by cartilage to protect against wear and damage.”

As well as acting as a cartilage substitute, this product could help reduce clothing waste. 

"Textile waste is a global challenge with significant environmental implications, and we've been working for more than four years to address this problem with a viable textile recycling solution," Dr Byrne said.

"With population growth and the development of third world countries combined with today's rapid fashion cycles, textile waste is always increasing, leading to millions of tonnes of clothes and other textiles being burnt or dumped in landfill."

Unlike other textile recycling initiatives, this process does not rely on any toxic chemicals. According to Dr Byrne, the liquid solvents used to turn the jeans into an aerogel are all environmentally-friendly. 

The research team behind the discovery is currently running tests on the product. They hope to launch it in the commercial market in the next 3 to 5 years.

If successful, this product could help to repair people's joints and keep denim out of landfill! Read more about the innovative research here

If you’re passionate about sustainability and jeans then you might like to check out the most sustainable jeans in the world (in our humble opinion) over here.


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