Jaqueline Mayer, lab head at Beyond Surface Technologies. Muttenz, Switzerland. Photo: Flo Schweighofer (@flo.sndum)
A New Chapter
In our last correspondence, we got fired up about all the places microalgae can take us. Indeed, this small but mighty microbe can lead to a vast array of applications. So vast that it’s fielding collaboration with innovators across the globe to fully explore the potential possibilities.
In our minds, that’s a great thing. We love collaboration.
And on that note, we’re stoked to share an exciting discovery: miDori® bioWick.
miDori® bioWick is the world’s first microalgae-based wicking finish for fabric, and not only does this finish reach the coveted 100% biobased status, it pulls moisture away from the body - leading to accelerated evaporation and advanced cooling.
This unique trait gives us the opportunity to take the very same algae oil in our ski and board materials beyond the skin track and weave it into our daily lives.
Who is BST?
Matthias Foessel, founder & CEO of Beyond Surface Technologies. Muttenz, Switzerland. Photo: Beyond Surface Technologies
Beyond Surface Technologies - BST for short - is a Swiss company that specializes in biobased textile chemistry. For those not in the know, traditional textile finishes are typically made with petroleum and its various derivatives, so BST represents an incredible proofpoint of what biology can do for our world.
We’ve quietly been collaborating with BST for the last few years, taking algae oil and optimizing it for use in textiles to produce new innovations like miDori® bioWick.
We caught up with Matthias Foessel, founder and CEO of BST to learn more:
Matthias, how would you describe BST’s role in the outdoor industry?
In our part of the outdoor industry, I would say to disrupt and surprise. We started fourteen years ago with the aim to eliminate or significantly reduce the use of petroleum in textile chemicals. In the petroleum dominated textile chemical industry, that’s arguably a rather disruptive vision. We strongly believe that new materials, like microalgae oils, will enable us to do so and surprise our customers that they yet do not need to compromise on performance.
Pure, beautiful algae oil. An untapped resource for our innovation. Photo: Flo Schweighofer (@flo.sndum)
What drives you to keep innovating?
Constraints! Constraints foster innovation.
Let me explain what I mean by that. Our industry (textiles) is known to have a massive negative global impact on the environment. We want to use our experience and inside know-how to come up with better solutions for our planet. This approach means that you need to give yourself plenty of constraints, like eliminating the dependency on finite/fossil-based materials, keep reducing your carbon footprint, manage cost to allow adoptions, develop plug and play alternatives, develop applications using less water and energy, but do not compromise on performance.
If your development team, and as a matter of fact everyone in your company, understands the purpose and value of overcoming those constraints it will foster creative thinking. Creativity coupled with expertise leads to innovation. We love that.
What makes miDori® bioWick a “world first” discovery?
Stating the obvious, it is the first textile wicking finish based on a microalgae oil as the active ingredient.
It is the full package though that in my mind really sets it apart and makes it an industry first. Microalgae based, 100% bio carbon content, 80% lower carbon footprint, state of the art performance and durability, a plug and play solution in its application. All this at a cost level that allows mass volume adoption. I am yet to come across any other wicking finish in our industry able to match even some of those features.
The miDori® bioWick textile finish represents an exciting new chapter for us. What should we build? Photo: Flo Schweighofer (@flo.sndum)
So what’s the next application of this kind of tech, the next finish or coating?
Our number one project is to come up with a biobased PFC-free DWR (Durable Water Repellent). We love the idea that we can do this based on microalgae strains and in cooperation with our long-time partner Checkerspot.
And what’s going to be the next big focus of the apparel industry?
It's gotta be using significantly less water and energy. We still waste them as if they were infinitely available. It has to stop. We have that written down as our next constraint…