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Home-grown microbial cellulose facemask

Updated : 28-Oct-2020


  • Designers (Textile and fashion designers)
  • Researchers or innovators

Xylinum Mask

Elizabeth Bridges and Garrett Benisch of Sum Studio has created a microbial cellulose face mask. They decided to grow their own bacterial cellulose face mask in their home quarantine kitchen using a common bacteria, called Acetobacter Xylinum, that produces cellulose on the surface of a liquid that they inhabit. As it happens, the bacteria and its cellulose can be grown with as little as water, tea, sugar, and a small sample feed.


Sum Studios


United Kingdom

Sustainability Benefits

  • The prototype envisions employing the use of bacteria to develop a mask with equivalent filtration to N95 masks and is easily biodegradable.


  • The mask can be grown in specifically shaped molds so that the sheets can be grown to international standard specifications.
  • This sheet is flexible and strong, yet easily degrades into the environment. It can be waterproofed and oiled with natural ingredients to have the softness and strength of thin leather.

How does this work?

  • This mask's bacterial cellulose is created by a common bacteria, called xylinum acetobacter, on the surface of a liquid that they inhabit.
  • This bacteria and it’s cellulose craftwork can be grown with as little as water, tea, sugar, and a small sample to feed and let flourish.
  • As the bacteria multiply, they knit cellulose fibers into a single membrane that can be harvested and dried as a workable material.
  • Though translucent and smooth to the human eye, microscopic images show the tight web of cellulose fibers that make up this incredible knit.
  • Once the material is thick enough, it can be removed and hung to dry as a flat sheet.
  • The entire process takes around two weeks

About the Company

SUM Studios is the revival of three beautiful Grade II listed Victorian School Board buildings into a dynamic mix of arts, business and community spaces. The team behind the development, Heeley Trust, had a vision – to transform this local landmark and a gem of Victorian architecture into the heart of a community in Heeley. Starting with the opening of the business studios in the first building to be re-developed in 2013, Sum is now home to a diversity of commercial tenants, from digital animators and designers, to marketing professionals and film makers.

Company Contact Details

Sum Studio

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