Nikhil Bhosale*

A NEW JOINT project in Finland is aiming to develop new design-driven cellulose products that can replace cotton and polyester products. VTT Technical Research Centre, Aalto University and Tampere University of Technology are working on the Design Driven Value Chains in the World of Cellulose (DWoC) project, which aims to create new cellulose-based products suitable for technical textiles and consumer products. The technology could also find application in the pharmaceutical, food and automotive industries. The business case for replacing resource-intensive cotton and polyester with cellulose fibres is well established. Cotton textiles account for approximately 40% of the world’s textiles market and oil-based polyester makes up almost all of the remainder. Cellulose-based fibres, meanwhile, make up just 6% of the market. Cotton production is highly water-intensive, and artificial fertilisers and chemical pesticides are often used. It also utilises land that could be better used for food crops on a land mass that roughly equates globally to the size of Finland. According to the project partners’ findings, Finland’s current logging residue of 25-30 million cubic metres/year could equate to approximately 5-6 million tons of fibre, which would in turn reduce more than 20% of globally produced cotton. This would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 120-150 million tons, release enough farm land to grow food for 18-25 million people and desertification would decrease by approxi-mately 10%. State-of-the-art cellulose processing technologies could also generate significant production value for the Finnish economy, amounting to some €2-3bn for the country’s forestry, textile and mechanical engineering industries. As such, the project has received nearly €3m in funding from Tekes- Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation for the opening research stages over the next two years.

The aim of the project is to combine Finnish design competence with cutting edge technological developments to utilise the special characteristics of cellulose to create products that feature the best qualities of materials like cotton and polyester.

Product characteristics achieved by using new manufacturing technologies and nanocellulose as a structural fibre element include recyclability and individual production. VTT has developed an industrial process that produces yarn from cellulose fibres without the spinning process. The research centre has also developed efficient applications of the foam forming method for manufacturing materials that resemble fabric. “In the future, combining different methods will enable production of individual fibre structures and textile products, even by using 3D printing technology,” said Professor Ali Harlin from VTT. The first tests performed by Professor Olli Ikkala’s team at Aalto University showed that the self-assembly of cellulose fibrils in wood enables the fibrils to be spun into strong yarn.

1)      VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

By:  Nikhil Bhosale*,Vishnu Pareek are Department of  Fashion & Clothing Technology and Shrikant Eklahare, Vardhaman chougule are Faculty of  Textile Technology, D.K.T.E Society’s, Textile & Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji-416115, India.

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