Russia continues to be active in R&D investments in the field of innovative specialty fabrics and materials. Progress in this area is reflected by some recent industry developments, according to statements by representatives of leading Russian producers of technical textiles, and senior officials of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (a state agency that controls implementation of investment projects in this field).
The latest result of these developments: modilen, a new material designed by scientists at the G.A. Krestov Institute of Solution Chemistry at the Russian Academy of Sciences (ISC RAS), which offers research and support in the manufacture of specialty fabrics. According to the Institute scientists, the use of this new material could provide distinct advantages for fabrics producers, because it provides better technical properties to their finished products, compared to existing materials.
Modilen is natural linen adapted with special chemical and physical modifications in manufacturing. According to the report from ISC RAS, the new material is created using special technology in the processing of short flax fiber.
The technological chain
A spokesman for Mikhail Kiselev, head of the Institute, comments: “Due to optimal combinations of physical and chemical effects, the obtained material is characterized by high crimpiness and ductility, which creates conditions for its use in various industrial and technical applications.” Commercial production of modilen is planned to start at the end of 2019 at the Puchezhsky plant (which is affiliated with the Institute) in the Ivanovo region of Russia. The plant will be able to produce 3,000 tons of the material annually.
According to Institute scientists, the technological chain of modilen production is much shorter than that of similar materials currently being used in the manufacture of industrial fabrics both in Russia and abroad. The new material improves on the consumer qualities of finished products, providing them better plasticity and hygroscopicity, along with reliability and strength. An ISC RAS estimate indicates that modilen could provide cost savings in the range of 10–15 percent to fabric producers.
Modilen is generally recommended for manufacturing materials for medical and sanitary purposes. It can be also used as a non-invasive layer of dressings, helping to ensure pain-free dressings and preventing traumatization of wound surfaces.
In recent years, Russia has achieved significant success in the design and production of innovative textile materials and fabrics for technical and industrial uses, as evidenced by recent statements from Denis Manturov, the Russian Minister of Industry and Trade (the person in the Russian government responsible for the development of the technical textiles industry). This is also true for R&D activities in this field, says Manturov. Acceleration of scientific activities in this industry has occurred mainly due to the increase of the number of state orders for innovative fabrics—and a priority, given by the national government, to the implementation of projects for the design of innovative textile materials.
Innovation and growth
Commercial production of several newly developed innovative fabrics has already been started in Russia. For example, a new material, positioned as an analog to concrete, began production some months ago in the Voronezh region.
The new fabric was developed by scientists from the Voronezh State University, one of Russia’s leading research institutions in the field of technical textiles. According to Mikhail Aristarkhov, head of the research group, its use ensures mortarless brickwork during construction and leads to a decrease of construction costs by 10–12 percent compared to applications using concrete. Aristarkhov notes that some leading Russian and European construction companies have already expressed an interest to the new technology.
Another innovative type of industrial fabric, designed for use in surgery and prosthetics dentistry—also offering greater economy than currently used materials—has been recently launched in the Novosibirsk region. According to researchers, the new material, in combination with flexible foams for medical purposes, could be used in the production of dental implants.
Voronezh State University is also planning to support the commercial introduction of special evaporating nonwovens-based installations in the near future. Thanks to the ability of technical textiles to remove and evaporate moisture, these installations could supply materials to form the basis of many industrial enterprises seeking to remove excessive moisture in their production processes.
According to Manturov, this is just the beginning; during the next several years the Russian government plans to increase its support for R&D activities in the field of technical textiles and industrial fabrics. These funds should help the country to significantly raise its scientific potential in the field, and reduce the existing production gap with Western countries. Recently announced state plans include technical textiles and nonwovens in the list of strategically important industries for support by the Russian federal government.
Some developments in the industry have already been successfully completed. As one example, researchers at the Russian National Research Saratov State University have recently developed special masking clothing and fabrics designed for the armed forces. These types of fabrics are based on unique ultrathin nonwoven fibrous materials, comprised of fibers with a diameter of 30 nanometers. Electrospinning methods are used in the production of these polymeric fibrous materials, according to Saratov University staff.
Andrey Grigoriev, general director of the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research, states that these ultrathin nonwoven materials could be used for respiratory and skin protection, as well as against chemical, biological and radiation dangers. In addition to military, the new materials could be used in extreme sports applications.
In another example, members of the Russian Academy of Sciences have recently officially introduced special nonwovens materials that could be used in the production of clothing suitable for use in Arctic conditions. The design of these materials was carried out with the participation of experts at Termopol, one of Russia’s leading producers of technical textiles. Vladislav Ivanov, development director of Termopol, comments, “The new materials can be used in any climatic conditions and temperature ranges without loss of their operational characteristics. That means that these materials can be frozen only in laboratory conditions.”
Eugene Gerden is an international freelance writer based in St. Petersburg, Russia.