In “Where I work: The greener route to indigo blue,” a first-person account in the journal Nature, Tammy Hsu, CSO and co-founder of the SOSV startup Huue (IBSF08 2019) describes the motivation and science behind their earth-friendly dyes.
In the article she states, “Indigo dye, for example, is usually made from petroleum-derived aniline in a high-temperature process that involves formaldehyde and cyanide. Globally, around 20% of industrial water pollution comes from fabric dyeing. I want to make dyes using microbial fermentation instead. At Huue … we look at how dye molecules are made in nature. We study the biochemical pathways, then program Escherichia coli bacteria to make our dye in the same way. Instead of using toxic chemicals, we feed the microbes and they make the dye.”