Researcher creates ultra-soft yarn out of animal bones

Your knitted sweaters are made of yarn spun from animal hairs and vegetable fibers. In the future, though, they could be made of yarn created from animal bones, ligaments, and other parts that aren't edible. Such is the result of years of work by a researcher in Zurich who had developed a way to make soft yarn from waste products produced at slaughterhouses. Upon first mention, the process sounds uncomfortable or gross, but the resulting product is indistinguishable from regular yarn.

This new yarn is the brainchild of Wendelin Stark of Zurich, who upon hearing about the massive amount of animal waste produced by slaughterhouses began developing a use for it. Over the course of four years, Stark developed what is described as an "ultra-soft wool-like" yarn made from the collagen of animal by-products: skin, ligaments, bones, and tendons.

Note: The red yarn above was made from waste products from pigs.

The gelatin manufactured from the animal products is heated in an unspecified chemical bath, after which point it is extracted with a syringe and extruded in, presumedly, very small fiber-like strands. Those strands then harden. Thanks to a machine made by Philipp Stossel, one of Stark's students, the process has been automated and the fiber used in the mitten you see above was made "within hours".

The benefits from this are numerous: if used, this so-called biopolymer would reduce the impact of the textiles industry on the environment, and at the same time would curb the millions of tons of animal waste produced by slaughterhouses every year.

The product isn't perfect yet, however. Because the biopolymer is made of gelatin, there's the problem of dissolving when exposed to water — meaning if you were to wear a sweater made with un-treated gelatin-based yarn in the rain, it could "melt" off of you. To solve this problem presently, other chemicals must be added, reducing the material's environmentally positive impact.