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Wheat straw gets a wearable makeover

January 1st, 2020 / By: / Swatches

The eco-friendly process to create fabric from wheat straw, developed by Spinnova and Fortum, can also be applied to various biomasses without further technology development. Photo: Spinnova.

Wheat straw, long regarded as agricultural waste, is getting a makeover as a unique textile. The first knitted T-shirt, jacket and skirt were introduced in October 2019 at the Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference in Vancouver, Canada. The pieces featured the woven material on organic cotton warp.

The prototype textile is highly sustainable due to its extremely low environmental impact from raw material extraction, processing and manufacture. Developed jointly by Fortum, a European energy company, and Spinnova, a sustainable fiber technology company, the textile provides an application for wheat straw, which is normally discarded or even burned in the fields.

The two companies began by testing various biomasses. The straw was first processed with highly sustainable fractionation technology, developed by Fortum’s associate company Chempolis Oy. Spinnova’s technology, presently in a piloting phase, turns microfibrillated cellulose directly into fiber mechanically without any dissolving or harmful chemical processes. Fibers of the clothing were produced in Spinnova’s pilot facility in Finland. 

The goal of the two companies is to establish sustainable fiber production in Fortum’s future biorefineries that will use residual biomasses such as agricultural waste. The refineries will be based on fractionation technology, enabling highly resource-efficient utilization of wheat straw. For more information, visit www.spinova.com.