PERTH – An Australian tech business this week launched the first plant-free viscose-rayon fibres at an industry conference in Vancouver. Nanollose has set up a pilot plant and successfully manufactured a limited supply of ‘Nullarbor’ fibre from its microbial cellulose, produced using natural coconut by-products. The company raised AUS$5m from investors to commercialise the fibre after listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in October.
Nanollose has developed innovative proprietary technologies relating to the production, processing and applications of microbial nanocellulose, which have the potential to effect change in the global cellulose industry and to offer a sustainable alternative to plant-based cellulose materials.
This significant increase in production scale will allow Nanollose to provide samples of Nullarbor fibre to potential customers.
The viscose-rayon fibre market is predicted to reach US$16bn by 2019 with the vast majority used to make textiles and clothing. However, viscose-rayon is currently sourced from wood and there are significant environmental concerns surrounding the wood pulping process required to make it from plant-based sources.
In contrast, Nullarbor fibres are entirely plant-free, can be produced from a variety of waste products, do not require a kraft process, and can be produced with less waste and fewer natural resources than many fibres available today.
Nanollose’s managing director, Alfie Germano said: “This advance is another step in proofing and proving that our technology works along with hitting our Company goal of successfully producing ‘actual physical product’ in an industrial setting. We are excited to tick a few validation boxes and bring commercialisation closer.”