Bio Based Fibres in Textile & Bio-Fabrics

Bio based fibres in textiles


This article will cover various types of bio-based fibres, sources of bio fibres, and fabrics made of these bio-fibres. This collection post is prepared after researching many websites. 

Fibre is a natural or man-made substance with a certain length which is quite more than its width. It is the basic product of any textile material as well as nowadays fibres are also used in manufacturing superior material. 

There is a wide range of natural, regenerated and synthetic manmade fibres. Both natural and man-made synthetic fibres in recent days are facing sustainable issues more or less (Wikipedia). 

With the advancement of technology, researchers and scientists have come with fibre which is basically produced from renewable sources which are known as bio-fibres. These bio-fibres are more biodegradable, compostable end eco-friendly too in their manufacturing stage.

Types of Bio-fibre and Bio-fabrics

1. PLA Fibre ( poly-lactic acid fibre)
2. Chitosan fibre
3. Algae based fibre
4. Bacterial cellulose fibre
5. Collagen fibre
6. Fibre made from spider silk
7. Milk-weed fibre
8. Milk fibre
9. Bio-wash/Enzyme wash fabric
10. Bacteria based fabric

1. PLA Fibre ( Poly-Lactic acid fibre)

PLA fibre which is basically obtained from polymerization of lactic acid. The monomer of lactic acid is made from fermented plant starch such as corn or sugarcane. PLA fibre is produced by melt spinning process producing minimal process by-product waste.

It is more hydrophilic than polyester having excellent crimp retention and lesser density. Major applications of PLA fibre lie in industrial application such as industrial pipes wipes, disposable products, in case of house-hold products it has also proved its worth like diapers, hygiene products.

2. Chitosan Fibre

Chitosan is a natural biopolymer that is derived from chitin. It is generally extracted from cell walls of shell of insects, crabs and molluscs. It is very similar to cellulose.

It forms a blended fibre with cotton and viscose which is versatile and very easy to dye.

Chitosan fibre has a very strong anti-bacterial effect, high humidity absorption, completely biodegradable. Chitosan has its applications in areas of pharmaceutical & biomedical industries, textile finishes, heavy metal chelating agents, cosmetics, towels, mask filler etc

3. Algae-based fibre

Researchers have come up with a new type of fibre which is produced from algal seaweed. Algal fibre is completely eco-friendly and bio-degradable which can be dyed with nonchemical pigments such as crushed insect shells and knitted into the fabric for further end use of the garment. Sugar like powder is produced from algal seaweed. This powder is transformed into a water-based gel into which natural pigment is introduced and finally, this gel is extruded into long strands and finally woven or knitted into fabric.

According to an article published in Scientific America, Algae-based fibre is strong and flexible, fire-resistant. Algal fibres are also used to produce footwear and bio-leather based products. The water footprint of algal fabric is comparatively lesser than that of traditional fibres.

4. Bacterial cellulose fibre

Bacterial cellulose fibre is nothing, but fibre produced from cellulose which is extracted from the bacterial cell wall. The cellulose used here is quite similar to plant cellulose. Fibre produced from this bacterial cellulose ultimately extruded through spinnerets and produced into yarn which in turn will be produced into the fabric.

Physical and chemical properties are different from plant cellulose fibre. Fibres are thin and delicate. This fibre is generally used in medical textile as it has good wound healing property. Coating of bacterial cellulose gel is also used on cotton fabric.

5. Collagen Fibre

Collagen is a protein fibre, obtained from renewable natural sources, bovine skin that is from ocean collagen peptides from recycled fish scales. As the material is produced from fish scales it, itself is sustainable and eco-friendly.

Collagen extracts are used in fabric which reflects properties like antistatic, softer and cooler feeling, moisturizing. These collagen extracts are generally used on fabric for bedding, sportswear, baby-wear, etc as mentioned in Sportingtex.


6. Fibre made from spider silk

Like silk, spider web fibre is also a protein fibre, which is being extracted from the glands of a spider. Production of Natural spider web fibre is similar to the production process of silk from silkworm, Artificial synthetic fibre is also under production in a very initial stage. In artificial synthetic production where similar proteins made in the lab, which are secreted by the spider and finally spun into yarn and woven into the fabric.

It is incredibly tough, comparatively stronger than steel of same diameter, elastic in nature can be stretchable 2-4 times than its original length, more waterproof than natural silk.


7. Milk-weed fibre

Milk-weed fibre is a new generation fibres which are used as textile products in filling material in blazers and suits, pillows. This fibre is obtained from a perennial plant of genus Asclepias. It is a very shiny, slippery fibre with poor dinging ability. It possesses fire-resistant features. 

It is used in jackets, comforters, pillows, substitute as rubber, also makes good components for carpets. it is also used in Nonwovens, and Industrial applications. The hollow structure of milkweed fibre provides good insulation and buoyancy properties, it is a single cell fibre, but unlike cotton, it is free from convolutions and has low cellulose content. (source: Fibre2fashion).

8. Milk fibre or Casein fibre

It is generally derived from casein protein, which is present in milk also, so it named as milk or casein fibre. In some variations, it is also obtained by treating with Acrylonitrile. It is regenerated protein fibre with a smooth surface, absorbs moisture well, also possesses anti-bacterial and anti-fungal characteristics can be dyed at normal temperature. 

These fibres are used as a blend in yarns of fabric in t-shirts, innerwear, sportswear as it possesses anti-microbial activity. It is also used in medical textile too.

9. Bio-wash/Enzyme wash fabric

Textiles have always been one of the most environmentally polluting industries, Where Bio-wash is an attempt to innovate a suitable textile processing method that delivers eco-friendly finished products. It can be done on fabric either by an enzyme or by natural extracts from neem, aloe vera.

In denim it is in trend as stone washing of jeans is restricted, it gives similar rugged fading effect that of stone washing whereas bio-wash or enzyme wash in knitted fabric is being done to remove pills and to make a softer and smoother effect.

10. Bacteria based fabric

It comes from bacterial microbes called Microbial Cellulose (MC). The production process is very simple. cellulose is produced by microbes converting liquid bio-mass waste products from coconuts beer, sugar, and liquid food streams. Fibres are then converted into yarn and finally into the textile fabric.


Benefits of bio-fabric

The major benefits of producing bio-fabrics and using bio-fabric based products have the following benefits.
  • Eliminate waste
  • Sustainable product
  • Elimination of traditional textile inputs like dyes, pigments, pesticides, water
  • Faster production
  • Eco-friendly chemical
  • Bio-degradable

Brands producing Bio-fabrics:

Evocative: A New York based company, Evocative MycoFlex is a bio-fabric manufacturer made from mycelium, material from the root of mushrooms. They are producing leather goods, leather faux and bags.

Alga-life: German Israeli start-up generally develops fabric and dyes made from algae. This fabric, in addition, produces zero waste, economical, biodegradable, faster to grow and renewable.

Algi-Knit: A US based firm produces yarns and knitted fabric from KELP algae. Production of fibre does not require any chemical pesticide and fertilisers.

Spiber: Japanese firm makes a protein fibre from Brewed protein based on spider silk. Fabric from spider silk is lightweight, flexible. They have claimed that it is extremely suitable for sportswear.


References:
https://www.commonobjective.co/article/7-biofabric-producers-you-need-to-know-about
https://textilevaluechain.in/2015/06/10/futureistic-fibres-of-textile-world/
https://www.sustainablefashion.earth/type/recycling/textile-produced-from-algae/
https://textilelearner.blogspot.com/2011/07/introduction-of-milk-or-casein-fiber_3419.html

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