Germany’s nova-Institute has selected six innovations in cellulose fiber, from cellulose made of orange and wood pulp to a novel technology for cellulose fiber production, to go head-to-head for the Cellulose Fibre Innovation of the Year 2022 award that will be conferred at its International Conference on Cellulose Fibres 2022 in Cologne (2–3 February 2022) and online.
The breadth of cellulose fiber applications is in expansion mode, from hygiene and textiles as well as non-wovens, through to alternatives for carbon fibers for light-weight applications
First up is the HighPerCellCarbon process for converting wood to carbon fiber developed by the German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf (Germany). The technology starts with wet spinning of cellulosic fibers using ionic liquids as direct solvent in an environmentally friendly, closed loop filament spinning process.
Fibers365 from the eponymous company are reportedly the first carbon-negative virgin straw fibers on the market. The products are extracted from the stems of annual food plants such as straw by a chemical-free, regional, farm level steam explosion pulping technology, allowing an easy separation of the fibers from sugars, lignin, organic acid and minerals
Iroony is a cellulose made by RBX Créations (France) from hemp, a plant that grows quickly within in a few months, captures carbon and displays a high content of cellulose. The biomass is directly collected from French farmers who cultivate without chemicals or irrigation, in extended rotation cycles, contributing to soil regeneration and biodiversity. For a diversified supply, the hemp can be combined with organically-grown flax.
Spinnova’s innovative technology enables production of sustainable textile fibers in a mechanical process, without dissolving or any harmful chemicals. The Finnish company’s process involves use of paper-grade pulp and mechanical refining to turn pulp into microfibrillated cellulose (MFC). The fiber suspension consisting of MFC is then extruded to form textile fiber without regeneration processes
The Spinnova process does not generate any side waste, and its environmental footprint boasts 65 % less CO2 emissions and 99% less water consumption compared to cotton production. Spinnova’s solution is also scalable: Spinnova targets to reach 1 million tonnes annual production capacity in the next 10 to 12 years.
Kelheim’s plant-based, biodegradable fibers contribute significantly to a sustainable future in the field of reusable hygiene textiles. Through innovative functionalization they perform comparably with synthetic fibers.
Orange Fiber is the first company globally to produce a sustainable textile fiber from a patented process for the extraction of cellulose from citrus juice leftovers, which amount to more than 1 million tonnes a year in Italy alone. The result of a partnership with Lenzing Group, Tencel fiber is made of orange and wood pulp and characterized by softness and high moisture absorption.