No use in crying over spilt milk, right? Make it into an eco-friendly fiber, instead!
The folks at Qmilk have done just that. Using milk that is no longer available for food sale, the innovative company is using the casein protein found in milk to create biopolymers that can be used in a myriad of applications, from medical technology to fashion and cosmetics.
The team, comprised of a microbiologist, industrial engineer and bio-product technician, wanted to find a purpose for the massive amounts of milk that are not available for sale every year due to being infected with germs, containing too many somatic cells, or colostrum.
In Germany alone (where Qmilk was founded) approximately 2 million tons of milk are thrown away each year. Estimates are that 30% of India’s milk goes bad because of lack of refrigeration, and in North America, more than 2.2 million tons cannot be sold each year.
Qmilk can use every part of the milk that would have been thrown away, including the protein, fat and whey, to create eco-friendly materials and products.
The process involves pressing the casein by a special spinnert. In just 5 minutes, and with two liters of water, one kilogram of Qmilk’s biopolymer can be formed, creating something useful from a material that would have been destined for disposal.
What can be made from milk?
Traditional fibers used for clothes can be enhanced with a 20% addition of Qmilk, providing softness, heat and moisture wicking, and reduced bacterial growth. German biologist and fashion designer Anke Domaske started making clothing out of Qmilk fibers when her stepdad reacted to fabrics while suffering from blood cancer. Domaske can create a dress or shirt spun from fibers made from six liters of sour milk.
The Qmilk fibers can be added to home furnishings and textiles, such as pillows, mattresses, duvets, couches and other products with plush fibers. The addition of Qmilk means that moisture is wicked away more quickly, making it ideal for comfortable sleep.
Automobile’s interiors can also utilize the Qmilk fibers, as can antibacterial medical technology equipment.
Even cosmetics can be created from the Qmilk fibers, addressing aging concerns such as wrinkles, large pores, dark circles and sagging skin.
Milk – it does the body good.
Feature image courtesy of Noemi Ventosa