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Nordic Bioproducts successfully develops novel plant-based textile fiber

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2022-01-28 10:45:46 – Finland

Nordic Bioproducts, an Aalto University spin-off, claims that it has successfully manufactured a new plant-based textile fiber called Norratex using its patented AaltoCell technology, and without the need of harmful chemicals or expensive solvents.

Norratex fiber can be created from byproducts of the forest sector, textile waste, and conventional paper pulp — a substantial advantage over traditional viscose, which is made from dissolving pulp and can cost up to 30% more. The qualities of the fiber were described as "near to viscose, with cotton-like properties," but with the potential to replace polyester in the long run.

The new fiber manufacturing process is being viewed as a drop-in replacement for existing viscose fiber plants in order to eliminate the use of toxic carbon disulphide. It could also offer a path to the recycling of mixed material textiles because natural fibers have already been neatly separated from plastics into clean fractions on a laboratory scale.

A €30 million prototype production unit with an annual capacity of 10,000 tonnes of Norratex will be built in Lappeenranta, Finland's southeast corner, close to six existing pulp manufacturing factories.

Competition in the field of new textile fibers is heating up, and the industry's early adopters are now commercializing their goods and moving toward industrial-scale production. Many of these technologies are from Finland, including Aalto University's existing Ioncell fiber, Metsä Spring's Kuura fibre, Spinnova's fibre, and Infinited's Infinna.

Bernardita Araya, manager of CMPC Ventures, said that they’re quite excited about this new collaboration. It signifies a big step forward for CMPC in developing a leadership role in the development of future biobased industries with global effect. This technology is simple to scale for generating fibers at a reasonable cost, and it has piqued the market's interest. They’re in an excellent position to immediately commercialize this product.

Nordic Bioproducts began developing a cost-effective and scalable textile fiber manufacturing technology in partnership with the University of Tampere in 2020, based on the concepts of Aalto University Professor Olli Dahl.

For numerous years, the Aaltocell technique has been investigated for the manufacturing of textile fibers. Using the patented approach, cellulose is first processed into small-particle cellulose, then into a viscose-like textile fiber.

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