News

Aalto speeds up development of ecological textile fibres with new pilot plant

With this new equipment, Ioncell fibre output can increase up to a hundredfold, enabling cooperation with even more companies.
Ioncell-lankoja

Ioncell yarns. Photo: Mikko Raskinen / Aalto University

Aalto University is accelerating the development of the Ioncell fibre manufacturing method by building pilot plant in the Aalto Bioproduct Centre in Otaniemi. The pilot equipment can be used to produce about 10 kilograms of textile fibre a day whereas so far, it has been produced manually in a laboratory with an output of 100 grams per day.

‘There is a strong interest in ecological textile fibres, and we get a lot of material requests from textile and fashion companies that we can't meet. Thanks to the pilot plant, we can provide much larger quantities of fibre to be tested and collaborate with a growing number of companies,’ says project leader Professor Janne Laine, Aalto University's Vice President for Innovation starting from 1 January 2019.

Preparations for building the pilot plant are already in full swing. If all goes as planned, operation will start during 2020. The scale of the investment is about EUR 4 million, and the process of finding business partners is already underway.

Ioncell-tehdas

Developing new products of high added value is an important part of the bioeconomy strategy of the Finnish Government. The price received from textile fibre is 2.5 times higher compared to dissolving pulp – and the return is even higher in products manufactured from the fibre. Image: Safa Hovinen

Entire production chain under one roof

According to Laine, the aim of the pilot plant is demonstrating the functionality of Ioncell technology on a larger scale, a prerequisite for commercial production in the future.

‘At the same time, we are creating an excellent environment for researchers and students for studying the basic phenomenon of manufacturing textile fibre which is needed when developing new technology.’

‘We already have people in the Ioncell team from biomaterial experts to chemical engineers and designers, and now we are including even more Aalto staff and students from machine design to business and industrial engineering and management. This is a multidisciplinary competence project – Aalto at its best,’ says Ilkka Niemelä, President of Aalto University.

Researchers’ objective is to develop Ioncell into a completely closed loop process. That means always reusing the ionic liquid used for producing the fibre, and materials will include recycled materials as well as pulp.

‘We have the whole textile manufacturing chain at Aalto, from producing the fibres to yarn, fabrics and finished products,’ says Professor of Practice Pirjo Kääriäinen.

‘We may very well be bringing the textile industry back to Finland – in a new, environmentally friendly format,’ says Janne Laine.

In the future, the pilot plant can also be used for developing other new products that utilise biomass.

Ioncell is a method for producing regenerated cellulose fibres developed under the leadership of Aalto University Professor Herbert Sixta. The most common regenerated cellulose fibre on the market is viscose. The production of Ioncell utilises the non-toxic and safe ionic liquid developed by University of Helsinki Professor Ilkka Kilpeläinen

The preparations for the upscaling of the Ioncell process have been partly conducted in Aalto University’s subproject of the TeKiDe, a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The Helsinki-Uusimaa Regional Council is funding the project. TeKiDe project was awarded in the European Commission's RegioStars Awards in October.

Ioncell.fi

Contact:

Janne Laine, Professor (Vice President for Innovation beginning from 1 January 2019)
Tel. +358 50 465 6835
[email protected]

  • Published:
  • Updated:
Share
URL copied!

Read more news

Havainnekuva rintasyöpäsoluista mikroskoopissa
Press releases Published:

Breast cancer cells use forces to open up channels through tissue

A new method reveals that cancer cells can spread by rapidly applying forces to tissue material.
Tuoleja ravintolatilassa, taustalla asiakaspalvelutilanne
Press releases Published:

New technologies can help people make sustainable dietary decisions

Blockchain-backed app provides information about food impacts and combined customer choice
An illustration with a graph on the left and a molecular structure inset in a cube on the right. Each curve on the graph is a different colour, and each is connected by a line to an inset circle with a specific molecular feature corresponding to that curve. Above the cube with the molecular structure is a squigly arrow coming in, labelled "hv", and a straight arrow going out, labelled "e-". The entire figure (graph and inset cube) is labelled "XPS".
Press releases Published:

Machine learning gives material science researchers a peek at the answer key

A model trained to predict spectroscopic profiles helps to decipher the structure of materials
A schematic showing two circular light waves coming from the left, passing through a square representing the modulator, and emerging as a single linear light beam.
Press releases Published:

The handedness of light holds the key to better optical control

A new optical modulator could boost the performance of optical technologies in domains from communication to computing