The fashion industry is one of the sectors that have the most dramatic impact on carbon emissions. That is why it is not surprising innovations in materials and textiles used to make clothes are rising and some of them include using carbon dioxide captured from the industry in the production of new textiles.
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Rubi Laboratories Inc. is a startup that is working on exactly that. It was founded in 2020 by two twin sisters Leila and Neeka Mashouf passionate about solving climate change. The sisters have found a way to convert carbon emissions into naturally biodegradable material called viscose also known as rayon which is the world’s third most popular textile.
The process involves capturing CO2 and then converting it into cellulose, which can then be used to create viscose-based yarn. According to the company, the making process skips the water, land, and chemically intensive steps used today to grow and process the plant fibers, and instead directly synthesize the same exact fibers to create the viscose.
Thus the result is carbon-negative, water, chemical and land neutral, and naturally biodegradable material. Rubi claims that for every garment made with the technology, around 2 bathtubs of pure CO2 are removed from the atmosphere.
What is also innovative about the process is that it is able to capture and convert CO2 from a gas input at any concentration.
“What’s exciting is our technology is actually really flexible on the source of CO2. We’ve tested and proven that it can work even on direct air capture, which is very low levels of CO2,” explains Leila Mashouf.
So far, the startup has managed to raise $4.5 million in seed funding from Talis Capital and Necessary Ventures, and a fistful of additional institutional investors.
Some angel investors that have contributed are James Reinhart, CEO and founder of thredUP, Manny Mashouf, CEO and founder of Bebe Stores, Nicolaj Reffstrup, founder of GANNI, Alexander Lorestani, CEO and co-founder of Geltor, and Rei Wang, co-founder of The Grand. The funding round also includes a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation – the independent federal agency created to promote the progress of science.
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The vision of startup Rubi Laboratories is to create a platform technology that could be applied to produce other things beyond textiles like building materials, packaging, food and more. It sees a world where human prosperity and economic growth is net zero and does not destroy our home. The world needs rapid implementation of carbon negative technologies in every aspect of the industry to secure a planet positive impact from the global economic development.