CRADA trials underway in SC to produce flax for apparel industry
Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc, the developers of the patented CRAiLAR fiber process, announced that it has joined forces with Hanesbrands Inc. and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) in a cooperative research project designed to cultivate and evaluate the viability of various flax strains for use in CRAiLAR technology. The project takes place in South Carolina and has an initial term of one year with a renewal option for two additional years.
NAT has already successfully transformed flax fibers blended with cotton into sustainable yarns and fabrics that posses unique properties such as moisture management and shrinkage resistance, with the comfort and price parity of cotton.
The new partnership with Hanesbrands Inc and the USDA-ARS is a strategic step in NAT's optimization of flax fibers as the foundation for the next phase of its proprietary CRAiLAR technology. Success of the project will result in the achievement of producing a viable, natural substitute to synthetic fibers that effectively blends with cotton to create new markets and new uses for natural fibers.
"We've announced previously that we had created a viable sustainable complement to cotton using flax fiber in our CRAiLAR process," said Ken Barker, CEO of Naturally Advanced Technologies. "This new research we're conducting, in partnership with Hanesbrands Inc. and the USDA-ARS, allows us to identify the best possible flax strain and agricultural practices suited for the needs of the apparel and related fiber markets, and will maximize the effectiveness of our CRAiLAR process"
The project, led by ARS, the chief in-house scientific research agency of USDA, is part of the agency's Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) program the primary tool linking government and industry researchers in cooperative research work.
ARS scientists will collaborate with NAT and Hanesbrands Inc. to assess various flax varieties and their viability for cultivation in the South Carolina region, as well as which crop conditions, harvesting and processing techniques will produce the highest possible yield of consistently superior fibers. Testing will take place at two ARS research facilities in Florence and Clemson, S.C., after which NAT will convert the resulting flax crop into textile-grade fibers
The all-natural, 100%-organic CRAiLAR process is the first to successfully remove the binding agents from flax that contribute to its stiff texture by processing the fibers in a patented enzyme wash using dedicated equipment. The result is a fiber that has both the tensile strength of flax and the sought-after qualities of cotton. Spinning trials facilitated by NAT and Hanesbrands Inc. earlier this year have proven that CRAiLAR-treated flax can be spun on existing cotton spinning machinery.
NAT and Hanesbrands have jointly committed to provide approximately $100,000 per year in in-kindcontributions to help fund the project which is expected to benefit local farmers creating new business opportunities and potentially establishing flax as a major winter crop in the South Carolina region and to create job prospects for the people of Kingstree, S.C.
Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc