Harnessing Bacteria to Grow Custom Packaging

Bacs bacterial packaging photo

Some things have no business being packed up and shipped at all, like software serial numbers. But until we learn to teleport fragile objects, we're going to have to protect them for the journey. This ambitious concept called Bacs harnesses the bacterium acetobacter xylinum to self-assemble around an object, encasing it in a biodegradable paper-like shell. For this innovative notion, designer Mareike Frensemeier took third place in Cargo Packs 2020, a design challenge staged by Bayer MaterialScience.
By slathering an object with the special culture and then offering it a sugary meal, the bacteria metabolize the glucose into a "fibrous nano-scaled cellulose network."Bacteria are good for a whole lot more than getting you sick and helping you miss work. As we've seen, bacteria may be able to help make fuels like ethanol, put the brakes on desertification, clean up radioactive waste, and detect pollutants. Bacteria-based computing is also a field getting a growing amount of attention.

While we can't call Bac packaging a proper case of biomimicry (one of the principals of biomimicry is that is draws inspiration from nature-doesn't harvest or harness it), creating custom-shaped biodegradable packaging at room temperature could be a boon for a sector that is wasteful to the max. If you need a reminder, check this one out.

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