Australian textile innovator Nanollose has signed a collaborative agreement with Grasim Industries Ltd., of the Aditya Birla Group, to work on exclusively developing and scaling the former’s ‘Tree-Free’ Nullarbor fibre production.
Nanollose ferments liquid organic waste from the food and beverage industries, such as coconuts, to produce microbial cellulose that, once prepared, can be spun to create rayon fibre.
With the fundamentals of its proprietary technology in place, the firm has sought a global partner to help reach its goal of yielding 2-5 tonnes of material per month by Q2 of this year. Fibre producer Grasim, of the US$48.3 billion Aditya Birla Group, will assist in further refining Nanollose’s solution to enable production on its pilot spinning line by the tonne.
“We are thrilled to have Grasim as an industrial partner,” said Nanollose’s managing director, Alfie Germano, of the partnership. “This collaboration will allow Nanollose to scale with a globally recognised fibre maker and create a number of commercially ready sustainable fibre products that will meet the growing demand from brands seeking eco-friendly alternatives.”
Through its agreement with Grasim, Nanollose kickstarts the year as planned – as it outlines its targets for the year 2020 by the quarter.
In the coming few months the firm says it will commence development trials with its current raw material inventory of 500kg to first prove the efficacy of yielding one to two tonnes of microbial cellulose raw material per month, before it takes steps to increase this capacity to as much as five tonnes.
The agreement with Grasim will span three years and will work on the basis that both partners share knowledge and intellectual property around microbial cellulose and its conversion into fibre. As it’s adjusted for production at Grasim’s site, the companies have also agreed to terms that any new intellectual property will be shared.
“Once successful pilot scale production at Grasim has been achieved, Nanollose and Grasim aim to enter into a subsequent agreement for the exclusive production of Tree-Free fibres from microbial cellulose on a commercial scale,” the pair insist.
With Grasim’s pilot facility developing hundreds of tonnes of microbial cellulose over the trial period, it’s anticipated that enough Nullarbor fibre will be produced to enable apparel brands to create small collections of apparel using the 100 biodegradable Tree-Free fabric.
What makes Nullarbor production different to that of traditional rayon is that is cuts out the need for conventional wood pulping, as the microbial cellulose produced from food and beverage industry feedstock is spun into fibre. According to figures cited by Nanollose, 150 million trees are chopped down each year to make cellulose-based fibres and this is set to double over the next decade.
The company’s microbial cellulose shifts away from this resource and energy-intensive practice with its alternative not reliant on deforestation, pulping or pesticides, only low amounts of energy, water and land.
Forecasting that things must change; Grasim has forged this relationship to bolster its own fibre portfolio.
“The combination of Nanollose’s Tree-Free cellulose fibre technology, along with Grasim’s sustainability initiatives, has the potential to make this union one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable fibre offerings on the market,” the firm’s suggest.
Germano concluded: “We feel this is a natural joining of forces that creates an alliance that will pioneer a new bio-material supply chain along with ticking many large sustainability boxes and increasing market demands.”
Courtesy: Eco Textile News
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