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Utah State Spider Silk Lab Awarded Navy Grant Aimed at Maritime Defense

PhysOrg Friday, Jun. 01, 2018

Envisioning a device the U.S. Navy is developing with Utah State University synthetic spider silk conjures images you'd expect in a James Bond thriller. Think strong, stretchy fibers wrapping relentlessly around a boat propeller and effectively foiling nefarious efforts by smugglers, pirates or terrorists. That's what nonlethal Maritime Vessel Stopping Occlusion Technologies or 'MVSOT,' the official name for these types of devices, are intended to do. USU's Utah Science, Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative-funded Synthetic Spider Silk Lab is the recipient of a $420,000 grant from the U.S. Navy Division of Unconventional Warfare aimed at designing and developing these devices, as well as applying USU silk manufacturing technology to enable commercial-scale production of other biomaterials. ... "This project has three major aims that will benefit the Navy and advance our research," says Randy Lewis, professor in USU's Department of Biology and lab director. ... "This is a great opportunity for USU, because this project will allow us to continue to develop our knowledge of synthetic silk production and applications," Lewis says. ... The grant is for one year, with opportunities for follow-on funding. ... The scientist, who joined USU in 2011, adds he's grateful to USTAR – the state-funded Utah Science and Technology and Research economic development initiative – for providing funding for his research.

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