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Wine and beer-derived fibre edges towards commercialisation

Australian technology company Nanollose has officially launched what it describes as “the first plant-free viscose-rayon fibre” that uses waste products from wine and beer to create a textile it says eliminates traditional problems associated with rayon.

Nanollose’s fibre uses microbes that convert biomass waste products into microbial cellulose, in a process that takes less than one month and requires very little water or energy. The microbial cellulose is then converted into rayon fibres using the Nanollose technology. 

Company founder Gary Cass inadvertently discovered the building blocks of the fabric while making wine. The wine became infected by naturally occurring bacteria, which turned it into vinegar. It also created an unexpected by-product in the form of cellulose fibres. (See Back to Nature, WSA March/April 2014, which can be downloaded as a pdf from the Technical Library, for more on the Red Wine Dress.)

Nanollose managing director Alfie Germano said: “Each year a huge number of trees are cut down to produce wood-based fibres like rayon. Today’s breakthrough takes Nanollose one step closer to commercialising our sustainable fibres as a very real alternative so we can positively impact and reduce the cutting down of trees and use of toxic processes to create clothing.”

After raising A$5 million ($3.9 million) through an initial public offering in October, the company has been in talks with textile manufacturers and brands about scaling up the process. 

“The next step will be around accelerating towards producing sufficient quantities of rayon fibre samples for these groups,” said Mr Germano. “We then aim to collaborate with these global partners who can expedite our development programme, and provide technical support and scale for turning fibre into fabrics, which will then go into making clothing.

“My 30-year tenure in the textiles and apparel industry has opened my eyes to the environmental concerns that plague the industry. I believe we are at an inflection point where the industry will begin to increase their search for sustainable alternatives.”






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