Thomas Phippen, DCNF
The military is raising investment on research into genetically engineered spider silk for durable, flexible material about half the strength of Kevlar that could protect soldiers’ privates.
The Army awarded $900,000 to Kraig Biocraft Laboratories to develop “high-performance fibers for protective apparel applications” Wednesday, adding on to the original $100,000 contract awarded last summer.
After the Army received samples of the specialized strain of super-strong fiber that Kraig Biocraft called “Dragon Silk,” the service wanted more.
The company will “match the performance of our spider silk to their specific use cases and protective applications,” Jon Rice, COO of Kraig, said in a press release.
One of the top potential uses is “extremity protection… for the groin area,” James Zheng, lead scientist for the Army’s Soldier Program Executive Office told DefenseOne. “We want to evaluate, to test, to see if this is a better material to use,” Zheng said.
Kraig Biocraft injects spider DNA into silk worms to create a material far stronger than silk, and far more flexible than Kevlar. The company described the process for creating the silk in a 2011 research paper.
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