Meet the ASU professor who developed a raincoat made of algae

Charlotte McCurdy is an assistant professor at The Design School.
Created using algae materials, its sure to stun fashionistas who are aiming to be a little more sustainable.
Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 12:06 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TEMPE, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5) - When you think of algae, you may think of that slimy, slippery stuff you feel on your feet at the lake or in the ocean. But now an assistant professor at Arizona State University is using algae to develop raincoats, sequins and even a backpack.

We got a look at how the ASU professor made the magic happen.
We got a look at how the ASU professor made the magic happen.(Arizona's Family)

Charlotte McCurdy is an assistant professor in The Design School at ASU. She moved to Arizona from the East Coast last July. Why algae? McCurdy is interested in how we can decarbonize not just our energy and our fuels, but our clothes. “More than half of our textiles right now are made of fossil fuels,” McCurdy told Arizona’s Family in an interview on Thursday. “And they don’t have to be.”

McCurdy started with a ton of experiments to develop the raincoat. The research phase of design took about 6 months. Then she moved on to lab-based experiments which lasted another 6 months. Ultimately she was able to produce the clear material to make the jackets. Building a prototype on a larger scale took another few months.

This is McCurdy’s advice for those who want to make a difference: “Get curious about what things are made of really at their core,” McCurdy said. “Where are the carbon atoms coming from, and what you’re buying.”

McCurdy says there are a large amount of natural materials that aren’t associated with fossil fuels that can be used for clothing and there are a lot of exciting materials in the pipeline.

What’s the next step in terms of the algae jacket? Mass producing clothes made 100% out of algae will be years away, but there are some that are partially made of algae already, according to McCurdy.

Read more about McCurdy’s work here.