From forest to catwalk
As part of the FuBio Cellulose programme led by the Finnish Bioeconomy Cluster FIBIC Oy, Metsä Fibre has worked together with a group of research partners on developing a new, ecological, safe and simple process for manufacturing textile fibres from cellulose.
The result, Ioncell fibre, is stronger than cotton or viscose, and its renewable raw material is readily available from Finnish forests. Dissolved in a new type of ionic liquid, the pulp is regenerated into textile fibres by a dry-jet wet spinning method.
The demand for textile fibres is expected to rise by 77 per cent over the next 15 years. Since production of cotton cannot be increased due to scarcity of irrigation water and agricultural land, this opens up new opportunities for ecologically produced wood-based fibre.
Bioproducts such as textiles made from birch fibre have huge future potential. In the European union, the bioeconomy sectors already total around eur 2,000 billion in net sales annually, and bioeconomy industries employ around 22 million people.
Ionic solvents are a crucial element when producing textile fibre. A major breakthrough was made in the fubio cellulose research programme in 2013 with the discovery of a more environmentally friendly ionic fluid that is not only able to dissolve fibres, but is also suitable for regeneration.
Made from revolutionary Ioncell birch fibre, the Allu dress was launched in march 2014 at Finnish design brand Marimekko's fashion show.
The Finnish bioeconomy cluster FIBIC is one of six strategic centers for science, technology and innovation in Finland. The aim of FIBIC is to turn science and technology into sustainable bio-based solutions.