Thanks to innovative coloring techniques, the start-up founded by a trio of French entrepreneurs will innovate fabrics.
This is a society that should be a gold mine. The ambition of the Pili company is to suddenly expire all dyes. And in passing to revolutionize the textile industry. how By the invention of colors produced by bacteria. Marie-Sarah Adenis, designer and biologist by practice, one of the co-founders, explains: “Simply put, we teach bacteria to make colored molecules thanks to their enzymes.”
Because Covid promoted us all as “scientific specialists”, we know that enzymes are catalysts for chemical reactions. The biologist developed: “Enzymes are like workers working on an assembly line: each has its own mission, for example adding or removing a group of atoms. From their coordinated reactions emerges a new molecule possessing the color properties and physico-chemical properties desired for the dyeing of various textile fibers. In other words: through its molecular manipulations, Pili produces organic pigments. To date, most dyes come from the petrochemical industry, are very weakly decomposing, contaminating and toxic to the workers who handle them in offshore factories.
We measure the impressive progress caused by this trio of entrepreneurs managing approximately thirty scientists; in addition to Marie-Sarah Adenis, Pili’s other partners are French: Guillaume Boissonnat, scientific director, doctor of organic chemistry, and Jérémie Blache, president, from Toulouse Business School, seeking funds and company structure . Considering the potential of the business, the investments would be enormous. We suspect that fabric manufacturers are covering their feet impatiently. “We have achieved the perfect indigo, Marie-Sarah Adenis rejoices. We make our first ton. We set up industrial production. ”
A stain that does not use petroleum or harsh chemicals and has no added value
That’s all. We can buy jeans with a clear conscience. Denim blue, he made these small animals work in his cell culture box, or rather in large vats like for making beer. From Mediterranean blue to the sweetest forget-me-not, almond red or saffron yellow, you condition your bacteria, and voila! Well, not that simple. Often, the bacterium varies, and does not adhere to enzymes. Marie-Sarah Adenis: “It’s life, so it’s not easy to get what you want; It takes patience. ”It took several years of trying.
The result is a dye that does not use petroleum or corrosive chemicals and the production emits ten times less CO2. And it doesn’t cost much more. “When we produce on an industrial scale, it will be the same as the price of petrochemical dyes,” Marie-Sarah Adenis explains. Otherwise, we will not develop: for a product to be green, it must be accessible. We wonder why we didn’t think of it in advance. No one leans on the infinitely small to produce color. “These microorganisms are full of resources,” he smiled. However, he speaks of a “small” task. Together with his comrades, they are laying the groundwork for a factory in the Lyon region, which will be operational “in a few years”.
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Enthusiastic in their work, the three champions are not “all-natural” ayatollahs. “Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s not dirty. Vegetable dyes are as polluting as petrochemicals. And they are taking up the space of subsistence agriculture. Listening to them, one thinks that bacterial engineering should be taught in elementary.