Source: CVDaily Feed

LOGAN – Synthetic spider silk has many uses. The material is more than five times stronger than steel and twice as elastic as nylon. Utah State University’s Synthetic Biomanufacturing Institute has been producing it, but only in very limited quantities. Now the university will be able to produce it in large quantities thanks to the new USTAR Bioproducts Scale Up Facility.

A ribbon cutting for the new facility was held Thursday morning. According to USTAR professor Randy Lewis, who has been one of the principle researchers of synthetic spider silk, the new facility will be able to produce enough synthetic spider silk and other bioproducts to serve companies who were asking for larger amounts than what the old facility could provide.

“It clearly is an absolute requirement for us to move forward,” Lewis said of the new building.

Some of the synthetic spider silk uses include cosmetics, 3D printing, military clothing and adhesives. According to USU Vice President for Advancement and Commercialization Robert Behunin, the facility will help fill the gap from from research to commercialization.

“The goal is to continue to push the envelope on the development of spider silk protein and to prepare for the market,” he said.

There are other universities and institutions working on similar bioproduct projects, but according to a release by Utah State, the potential for high-quantity production could set USU apart by producing enough to be useful in making real-world products.

“We really are ahead of the vast majority of institutions in the United States and in the world for that matter in being able to bring a facility like this online for people to really move forward with everything from anti-cancer agents to lots of other sorts of things,” Lewis said.

A major reason the new facility will be able to produce more product than the older facility is the larger fermentation system inside.

“Every time I mention we have two 500-liter fermentors at our disposal, you see people’s mouth kind of drop open and are wondering how we did that,” Lewis said. “We did that because of the foresight of a lot of people who are here.”

In the future the new facility could still increase its production, it was built with the possibility of future expansion.