Breakthrough in ocean acidification adaptation strategies? Smart fabric to protect large marine molluscs from increased seawater acidity

The International Textiles Federation (ITF) recently revealed the “hot” topic of its upcoming Smart Fabric Symposium to be held on 1-2 April 2016 in Poissons, eastern France. The discussions will be centered around a revolutionary smart fabric developed in response to the threat of ocean acidification to mollusks – an important component of marine ecosystems and essential source of protein for numerous populations around the globe.

An international consortium of textile companies have been investing in research and development of a new high-tech smart fabric – the Basic-Tex – that would protect mollusks from the consequences of increasing seawater acidity on their shells and overall development. Smart fabrics are defined by a unique capacity to interact with their carriers and their respective environments. Equipped with embedded capsules containing an innovative acid-neutralizing composite, the Basic-Tex can increase pH in the immediate vicinity of the shell.

According to the ITF representative, the ultimate goal is to cover molluscs on the stretch of coastlines with the smart fabric, which would protect them from the negative effects of a lower seawater pH. Textile companies involved in the development of Basic-Tex are currently looking for technical possibilities to automatize the process without impairing the natural conduct of mollusks. But in the meantime, carrying out this operation cannot be performed without public participation and requires a large civilian task force. To this end, the ITF plans to launch a call for volunteers willing to dedicate their time to cover each individual mollusc with the smart fabric.

Critics of this new method of adaptation such as Dr John Smith have been quoted as saying “this new method of covering marine organisms in ‘smart fabric’ is a fool’s errand”.

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