Biodegradable Fibers from Renewable Sources
Around one million tonnes of fabrics used for clothing applications are produced each year in Europe by yarn spinning combining natural fibers (such as cotton or wool) and synthetic fibers (such as polyester). These blends of natural fibers and synthetics are generally prepared to improve comfort and durability aspects of the end products. However, these standard fabrics are complex to recycle after their use since both types of fibers are intermingled and cannot be separated again.
Companies in the textile industry are challenged today to make a radical shift towards innovative and high added value products to counter the competition with low-wage countries. In this context, the FIBFAB project has been initiated to successfully launch and industrialize the production of biodegradable and sustainable polylactic acid (PLA) based fabrics (wool/PLA and cotton/PLA) for the applications in casual, protective and workwear clothing, and to overcome the current limitations of PLA fibers as a real alternative to current fabrics (wool and cotton combined with polyester fibers). This improvement will be carried out by applying the knowhow and methodology developed in prior European projects Biofibrocar and Bioagrotex.
The main objectives of the FIBFAB project are to obtain a 100% bio-based and biodegradable final clothing product that meets the mechanical and performance requirements of the textile sector in correspondence with the final applications. Besides, the project participants expect to improve the current poor thermal resistance of PLA fibers to meet the requirements in several clothing applications by the technology developed in previous EU projects to enhance the final PLA crystallinity.
Better Breathability and Lower Weight
Regarding the PLA fiber manufacturing process, the processing parameters will be optimized to have thinner fibers (less than 3 dtex) and especially the mechanical spinning process (friction control in ring spinning) to be able to spin PLA blend fibers at higher speeds. This will allow the introduction of yarns and fabrics produced from PLA fibers and cotton or wool with important advantages, such as better breathability, better hydrophilic properties to make the tinting process easier, a higher resistance to degradation by UV rays, low smoke production and flammability and lower density than PES resulting in a lower fabric weight.
The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Fast Track Innovation Pilot programme (H2020-FTIPilot-2016-1) under grant agreement No 737882 and has a duration of 24 months. Participants are textile research center Centexbel (Belgium), DS Fibres (Belgium), Yünsa (Turkey) and Sintex (Czech Republic). Together with Aimplas, these consortium members cover the entire textile value chain, from fiber production to clothing manufacturing, thus ensuring the industrial implementation of PLA fibers.