At the spring trade shows in Paris last week, leading Austrian cellulosic fibre producer Lenzing presented its latest eco fibre, MicroModal Edelweiss, which is made from European beech wood using eco manufacturing processes.
Lenzing's textile fibres go in to knitted textiles for apparel as well as fabrics for sportswear and and healthcare applications. We were interested to find out more and attended the Edelweiss launch press conference at Première Vision, which was hosted by Dieter Eichinger, General Manager Business Unit Textile Fibers at Lenzing and Christina Kreuzwieser, Head of Global Marketing Communication.
Mr Eichinger told members of the press that the company's latest eco fibre innovation MicroModal Edelweiss is produced in an eco-friendly process known as Edelweiss, and that a particularly fine and luxurious micro fibre is produced. He explained that the name Edelweiss or 'noble white' when translated from German, refers to the 100% oxygen based bleaching which the company employs in the fibre's production.
Dieter Eichinger, General Manager Business Unit Textile Fibers at LenzingEco production technology
Dieter Eichinger explained to attendees that Edelweiss in fact meets the highest environmental standards.
"Lenzing's latest accomplishment in environmental fibre technology is known as Edelweiss. Edelweiss-technology is based on oxygen-based chemistry which is more eco-friendly than the conventional one. Thus Lenzing Modal Edelweiss is the only Modal fibre which satisfies the highest environmental standards and is even CO2-neutral," Mr Eichinger said.
Lenzing says it can look back at a long history of environmental technology. As early as 1963, the very first steps were taken to recover the chemicals used in pulp production. This was followed by further accomplishments such as the recovery of acetic acid and furfural from the substances contained in timber as well as the recovery of chemicals in fibre production.
Today Lenzing claims a recovery rate of more than 95% and is respected in the field of organic wood refinery.
Mr Eichinger told journalists that Lenzing is also a leader in the field of wood bio refinery and uses symbiosis as a principle in production. Bi-products of Modal include xylose, a natural sugar found in wood, which is used as a sugar free additive in chewing gum and sodium sulphite which is used in the glass industry.
"Lenzing developed the proprietary technology required to do this and it is not commercially available," Mr Eichinger added.
"Lenzing's plant is the only cellulose fibre plant in the world which produces pulp and fibre in a symbiotic process at a single site. This full integration allows for the high recovery rate and, in all steps of production, care can be taken to be sensitive to the environment. Throughout the global fibre industry, Lenzing's approach is recognized as quite unique," he said.
Lenzing Headquarters in Upper AustriaFurther innovations
In addition to MicroModal, ProModal, Lenzing Modal LOFT and MicroModal AIR, MicroModal Edelweiss is the fifth Modal innovation Lenzing has introduced and further innovation launches are planned for autumn 2012.
Lenzing has been making cellulose fibres for almost 75 years and started off producing Viscose. The quest to find increasingly superior fibres, and in particular fibres with better tenacities, led to the invention of the Modal fibre in the 1960's, which was based on High Wet Modulus fibre.
In 1964 Modal 333 was introduced, which has higher strength (especially wet), had similar dyeability to cotton and could be mercerised. Interestingly, in 1964 Lenzing was known as Lenzing Chemiefaser (Lenzing man made fibres) and by 1971 Modal was already considered a nature based product. By 1981 it had a complete natural focus and had adopted the famous Lenzing leaf logo a symbol of natural products.
In the mid 1980's, Modal was registered with the International Bureau of Standardization of Man-Made Fibres (BISFA) as a generic trademark and the company was able to establish Modal fibres in the textiles industry. Innovative products with new properties were subsequently commercialised successfully and today are well known in the market place.
By 1984 comfort became important in next to skin garments and the demand grew for finer softer yarns. Swiss cotton shirt producers used finer and finer yarns and Lenzing followed the trend introducing MicroModal, mainly for knitted apparel.
As the exclusive supplier, Lenzing's Modal fibre is today featured in many designer collections. Many leading brands also favour the fibre and Lenzing says the wide range of products and the fibre's softness and naturalness has won customers over.
Modal's market success is also demonstrated by the significant production expansion at the Lenzing manufacturing site. In the last 10 years, the production of Modal fibres has more than tripled from 30,000 tonnes to more than 100,000 tonnes.