The first commercial grade of BioMid is a 1,650-denier yarn, comprising 900 extremely highly crystalline cellulose filaments, each with a diameter of about 11 microns, according to Gordon Shank, co-inventor of BioMid and president of GS Consulting.
It has a tenacity of 8 to 9 g/denier and a modulus of 350g/d, properties that put it roughly on par with some E-glass yarns (typically 6 to 11 g/d) but below S-glass and aramid. The company also has a 2,200-denier yarn under development.
The fiber's feedstock is a proprietary blend of softwood and hardwood chips. A North American contractor separates the raw biomass into lignin, cellulose and hemicellulose. The lignin and hemicellulose are fully used as additives and fillers for plastics and feedstock for bio-fuels.
The remaining pure cellulose is converted into continuous filament and yarn by ENC in South Korea, but there are plans to eventually transfer this operation to the U.S. ENC and GS Consulting sell BioMid yarn to three companies that convert the material into fabric, contingent on the final fabric format: Absecon Mills (Cologne, N.J.) produces woven fabric; SAERTEX USA LLC (Mooresville, N.C.) makes stitched fabric; and A&P Technology (Cincinnati, Ohio) manufactures braided fabric. Additionally, Nexeo Solutions (The Woodlands, Texas) distributes BioMid yarn to converters for weaving processes and to part manufacturers for filament winding and pultrusion processes.
Absecon Mills was the first company to make a woven cloth from 100 percent BioMid cellulose fiber and began selling it late in 2012. The company also has plans to weave hybrid fabrics of either glass and BioMid or aramid and BioMid.
One of the drawbacks associated with renewables-based fibers of all types is their lack of availability and obscurity within the established composite supply channels, says ENC president Hoper Hwang, adding that Absecon Mills' ability to weave up to 10 million m2 (107.6 million ft2) of BioMid should overcome this limitation.
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