Evolved By Nature™
What do you mean when you say you are a green chemistry company?
Evolved By Nature™ is a green chemistry company because we make non-toxic, sustainable chemicals from natural silk protein. Generally speaking, green chemistry is the practice of designing and manufacturing chemicals and processes that avoid creating products and waste streams that pollute the planet and harm human health.
How is your technology a “platform?”
We refer to our technology, Activated Silk™, as a green chemistry platform because of its breadth of potential. From one natural silk protein we can create hundreds of unique molecular configurations to achieve different chemical properties. These unique natural silk protein configurations can be leveraged in products ranging from athleisure wear fabric treatments and water repellent coatings to personal care, household and medical products. We hold patents covering a wide variety of natural silk molecular configurations and their use in textiles, personal care and more.
Aren’t there other silk-based technology companies? How are you different?
There are other companies that use genetically modified or synthesized, “silk-inspired” molecules created in a laboratory. These bioengineered proteins are not silk but rather synthetic polymers that have never before existed in nature and need to be created and purified using resource-intensive processes. Evolved By Nature is the only company working with natural silk protein that has been stabilized in a water-soluble form. Activated Silk is made from natural silk cultivated in a process known as sericulture. Activated Silk is never engineered in a lab or in any way genetically modified. It is made from pure natural silk protein (fibroin), which has a long, scientific track record of safety unlike “silk-inspired” molecules.
Which companies are you working with?
We have commercial and development partnerships with a range of fashion, personal care and other consumer goods brands, including the Silk Therapeutics brand of clean, clinical-grade skincare.
ACTIVATED SILK™ technology
What exactly is Activated Silk™ technology?
Activated Silk is pure, natural silk protein in water. We developed a proprietary process to liquefy natural silk protein and stabilize it in water. In this form, silk is presented to the skin (or other substrates like fabric) in an “activated” state—an unfolded protein structure primed for bonding with other molecules and materials. As a result, Activated Silk can be used as a high-performance, natural, non-toxic ingredient or chemistry that takes the place of many of the harmful petrochemicals in a variety of consumer goods.
What does it do?
Activated Silk performs in different ways, depending on its molecular configuration. For example, in personal care products, it can be used as an active ingredient to firm the skin, ingredient stabilizer, ingredient delivery system, emulsifier and/or formula base. In fabrics, Activated Silk provides a variety of benefits, including enhanced moisture wicking, anti-pilling /abrasion resistance and improved durability.
Where and how is Activated Silk™ made?
We make Activated Silk in our manufacturing facility at our headquarters in Medford, Massachusetts. The natural silk cocoon is comprised of two proteins, sericin and fibroin. Fibroin is what gives silk its characteristic strength and smoothness, and it’s the protein we use in Activated Silk. To isolate the fibroin, we wash cocoons in a saltwater bath and rinse them, which removes the sticky outer layer of sericin, which is immunogenic. Once we have the purified fibroin, we liquefy it—again using a simple saltwater solution—and remove the salt. What we’re left with is natural silk protein in water.
Where do you get the cocoons used to make Activated Silk™?
We source cocoons from Asia that do not undergo the reeling process and are grown using organic farming practices. We are also able to source and use imperfect cocoons that have been discarded by the textile industry, because we don’t need continuous fibers to make Activated Silk.
What chemicals are “hidden” in products, and why are they bad?
Chemicals are everywhere and in everything, and derived from either natural or synthetic origin. However, nearly every consumer product is made with synthetic chemicals typically reliant on a petroleum feedstock or energy source. While chemicals are not inherently bad, there are many types of chemicals that studies show to be harmful to human and environmental health—and manufacturers in consumer goods are typically not legally required to disclose them. These chemicals range from BPA in plastics, food and beverage can linings to formaldehyde in cosmetics, carpets, furniture and countertops to PFCs (perfluorinated compounds) in clothing and personal care products to phthalates in clothing, furniture and flooring.
People are chronically exposed to many of these chemicals, which have been linked to increased risk of cancers, skin and respiratory-system irritation, hormone and reproductive-organ development disruption and other serious health problems. Workers in some textile mills can be exposed to concentrations of chemicals high enough to be considered immediately harmful.
In addition to the health implications of chronic exposure, many of these chemicals pollute and forever persist in the environment. These chemicals often make their way back into our bodies through drinking water and food.
What do you mean when you say that your silk is biocompatible?
When we say Activated Silk is biocompatible we mean it is non-toxic and won’t cause harm to the human body. Activated Silk is liquified natural silk, and natural silk has a long scientific track record as a biocompatible material that works in harmony with the body (in fact, silk fibers have been used for centuries as sutures in skin). Our company founders have extensive backgrounds in natural silk as a biomaterial for medical applications.
How is Activated Silk™ applied to textiles?
Activated Silk is applied to textiles during the dyeing or finishing process in the same way other textile finishing chemicals are applied. The process is fairly straightforward: in one example, a giant swath of fabric is hooked to a machine called a tenter frame (imagine a conveyor belt-type mechanism, with fabric taking the place of the belt). The tenter frame moves the fabric through a water-based bath that includes the Activated Silk formula that will give the fabric the specific qualities the manufacturer desires. Once the fabric has been immersed in the bath, it goes through a padder to remove excess water. The fabric is then heated in an oven-like device before being moved into the next stage of the process: turning textiles into a variety of consumer goods. Activated Silk is compatible with any textile wet-process available in a mill or tannery.
Is Activated Silk™ more expensive for companies to use than traditional chemicals?
No. Activated Silk typically doesn’t cost our partners more than using traditional chemicals, and is commercially viable and produced at production-level scale.
Does Activated Silk™ change the manufacturing process?
Activated Silk can be seamlessly integrated into any textile mill using standard production equipment. We’ve validated these processes at commercial scale at mills in North America, Europe, and Asia.
Is there enough silk to meet all your business needs?
Yes. There is a thriving and mature global sericulture industry that meets the world’s demand for silk fabrics. Our use of natural silk as feedstock for Activated Silk chemistry doesn’t rival the demand for silk fabrics as our chemistry is very potent and efficient in textiles and in personal care products.