Innovative cellulose-based fibers produced in Finland are attracting growing interest as the global fashion industry seeks environmentally friendly alternatives to polyester, cotton and oil-based textiles. For example, the Finnish company Infinited Fiber is constantly receiving inquiries from potential new customers about cellulose carbamate, which is currently in pilot production with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Interested parties include Calvin Klein and VF Corporation.
About ten fashion brands have already committed as customers for cellulose carbamate but Infinited Fiber is still seeking investors to complete the piloting stage for the new fiber which needs EUR 2-3 million annually, says the company’s CEO Petri Alava in a recent article by Kauppalehti.
Cellulose carbamate can be produced from cotton-rich textile waste and other biomaterials like wood. The end product is a fiber that is equal in quality to viscose. The production technology can be applied in any existing pulp, dissolving pulp and viscose fiber plant.
Spinnova aims for textile revolution
Spinnova is another innovative Finnish company responding to the increasing international demand for sustainable textile fibers. The company’s unique production method converts pulp directly into textile fiber using 99% less water than cotton production, without chemical solvents, and with zero waste streams. A fabric made with Spinnova fibre can be reused, recycled or composted, which further reduces the product’s environmental footprint.
Spinnova’s vision is of a more sustainable textile industry, where cellulose-based materials are a cost-efficient, environmentally friendly and preferred option for brands, and available to all consumers. In November 2017, Finnish design company Marimekko announced its support for the development and commercialization of textiles made with Spinnova’s technology.
“We believe that cooperation between the textile industry and innovative companies such as Spinnova is key in bringing new materials to the market. It is great to see that such globally significant expertise and technology needed for material development exist in Finland,” says Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko, President and CEO of Marimekko, in a statement.
Ioncell-F and BioCelSol research
Fast-changing fashion is driving the growth of textile consumption globally, annually creating 70 million tons of textile waste that ends up in landfills. The serious environmental problems caused by cotton and viscose production are well-documented. Cellulose-focused research at Finnish universities also aims to tackle these issues. One example is the BioCelSol technology developed by Tampere University of Technology and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, where pulp fibres are modified with enzymes.
Aalto University and the University of Helsinki have developed the Ioncell-F technology to convert cellulose into fibers that can be made into long-lasting fabrics. The raw material can consist of recycled textiles, pulp or even old newspapers and cardboard – all of which can be turned into new textile fibers without harmful chemicals. Finnish forest industry companies Metsä Fibre and Stora Enso are also involved in research on the Ioncell-F process which uses a novel solvent called ionic liquid that can be recycled.