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Shirts With a Caffeine Buzz? Waste Coffee Grounds Make High-Tech Fabric

Waste coffee grounds is icky stuff that’s a pain to clean up…but it’s also proven to be a great biofuel, and now a Taiwanese company has figured out how to turn it into a super-high tech eco-fabric. Is there no end to its talents?

Waste coffee grounds is icky stuff that’s a pain to clean up…but it’s also proven to be a great biofuel, and now a Taiwanese company has figured out how to turn it into a super-high tech eco-fabric. Is there no end to its talents?

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Singtex Industrial

The innovation comes from Singtex Industrial Co., which already has expertise in functional fabrics. It worked for three years on the process that’s apparently so efficient that “one medium cup of coffee can make two shirts,” or so says general manager Chen Kuo-chin. And if that’s not amazing enough, apparently the S.Café material is also quick-drying, odor-controlling, and UV-protective.

And, above all that, the eco-credentials of the material seem unparalleled. Apparently when manufacturing S.Café, the process “does not use any chemicals” and is free from “harmful materials commonly found in other yarns.” It also doesn’t require high-temperature carbonization, so it’s fuel consumption is low, and using the material in this way means it doesn’t end up in landfills. Furthermore, garments made of the stuff can apparently be washed in just clean water, which relieves the environmental burden of using a detergent.

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? Especially the part about the coffee from a medium cup being enough to make two shirts. That suggests the material is almost 100% polymerized into fibers somehow–and that’s got to use some chemistry and heat. Still, the product is out there, so expect to see it turning up in prestige (read: expensive) sports garments for green outdoors-types over here sometime soon. And if you’re wondering how you can help the environment with your waste coffee grounds without going all high-tech like this, just stick ’em on your garden: They make a great nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

[Singtex via Greenlaunches]

Related Stories:
Waste Coffee Grounds Make Great Biofuel
Drink Better Coffee, Save The World
2 Green Entrepreneurs Take on Coffee Waste

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I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)

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