During the last edition of Planet Textiles 2018 event in Canada, Australian technology company Nanollose has launched a microbial cellulose fabric called Nullarbor, derived from natural coconut byproducts: coconut waste.
Their microbial cellulose is grown through natural fermentation. «Nanollose Technologies – chief executive Alfie Germano told – uses industrial organic and agricultural waste products to produce plant-free cellulose. It also does not involve the felling of trees and doesn’t require the use of arable land or its associated use of irrigation, pesticides and other resource intensive inputs. This makes it a sustainable product with potential for industrial scale manufacture.»
Nullarbor: the specifics
It can be grown all year round, no waiting for “crop seasons”. Also, their numbers show microbial cellulose has a significant yield-to-field advantage. Their development speaks to those in the industry who are on the trail of finding sustainable alternatives to rayon and cotton.
«To create the rayon fibres that are currently used in clothing and textiles, countless trees have to be cut down, chipped and then treated with hazardous chemicals, and to make enough cotton for a single t-shirt it takes 2,700 litres of water» Germano said. By contrast, no trees or plants are impacted in the production of Nanollose’s Nullarbor fibre and fabric, and the process requires very little water. The result is a fibre that can be used to make clothing and textiles, but with a dramatically reduced environmental footprint.
Germano added that the company is initially tapping into the established coconut industry to secure pilot-scale supply of the raw material, but when operating on a larger scale, waste streams from bigger industries will come into play. «Our process has the potential to convert a number of biomass waste products from the beer, wine and liquid food industries into fibres using very little land, water or energy in the process.»
«My vision is for Nanollose to be at the forefront of offering fashion and textile groups a viable alternative, and decreasing the industry’s reliance on environmentally burdensome, raw materials» he concluded.