The ever expanding global population has created a serious shortage of cotton. Adding to this dearth is the increased purchase on part of consumers with regard to natural fabrics like cotton. Thus, with the rising demand from the designers, who are keen to dabble into fabrics that are unique, novel and fresh, and consumers developing a taste for these fabrics, the need for alternative textile has gradually surged up. Cellulose based textile with its superior quality and distinctive features, has carved a niche for itself in the world of fashion. Countries all over the world are involved in developing innovative cellulose-based fabrics and the result of this is a fabric created from plant substance and ionic liquid.


The need of creating sustainable fabrics involving cellulose fibres created with ionic liquid arose as the demand in textile fibres is predicted to reach 133.5 meter by 2030. These new fibres have retained all the properties of the other cellulosic fibres like moisture management, sustainability and breathability. These features are not characteristic to synthetic fibres, thus the global demand for the natural and man made cellulosic fibres is expected to rise between 33 to 37 percent. The consumption of the cellulose fibres will increase from 3.7 kg to 5.4 kg in 2030. Unfortunately, the cotton production alone cannot meet these demands, thus with the development of cellulose fibres created with ionic liquid, there is definitely a hope that more such fibres will be able to meet the textile requirements without compromising on the natural traits of cotton. Also considering the eco-friendly production of this new cellulose fibre, the supporters of green textile will not be disappointed.


This new member of cellulose-based fabrics that has been developed in Finland is an upgraded version of the fabrics that were around prior to it. Like other cellulose fabrics, this new fabric is a wood-based fibre. The cellulose fibre created with ionic liquid is made from wood chips that are melted into a pulp with the help of ionic liquid. This pulp is then processed to make the finished fibres that are spun into yarn. This specific spinning process is used to produce cellulosic textile fibres from wood. These fibres are a good alternative to cotton and viscose. The newly developed fabric is much sturdier than the viscose and it also has high water retention. The fibres are endowed with natural strength, thus making the fabric suitable for the garment industry and also as a reinforcement component in composites for a variety of manufacturing sectors.


Apart from these properties, it is significant to take note of the fact that the process to make viscose needs carbon disulphide and sodium hydroxide, and as a result produces sulphur oxides and dihydrogen sulphide. There are not many manufacturing units in the world that have installed recycling systems to shun the release of chemicals into the environment. The good news is that in manufacturing of this novel fabric the ionic liquid is fully recycled by evaporation. The cellulose pulp is also not wasted and is completely changed into fibres.

 

This fibre has also given a ray of hope to Finnish textile industry along with the pulp and paper companies. Unfortunately, recently some Finnish manufacturing units had to put up the shutters, but with this new development in textile industry that has been initiated by Finland, the textile industry alongside the pulp and paper industry will witness revamp for good. The first samples of the novel textile have already been produced and the fashion designers are also gratified with the quality and have deemed the fabric as perfect enough to be exhibited in fashion events. The fabric has performed well in a fashion field test under which it was used as a base for scarf design.


The ionic liquid cellulose fibre is likely to attract countries like China, where the textile markets are growing at a fast pace. The demand for alternatives to cotton is already rising and in such a case, this new fibre will satisfy the needs of textile sector. As of now, it is a requirement to create awareness regarding this new fabric. In order to commercialise this new invention in the textile, it is mandatory to attract the attention of large companies and investors, who can help in further research and development to make this fabric better. If the marketing of the fabric is done in a proper manner, this innovation could yield good profits.


Yet, the markets will have to wait for another five to ten years before the fabric is launched for the regular customers. It will take some more research and tests to ensure that the new fabric is flawless enough to be launched commercially and manufactured at a large scale. Moreover, tests will also have to be conducted on small-scale spinning units that will prepare 2 to 5 tonnes of fabric per day.


The development of cellulose fibre created with the ionic liquid has far more significance than mere addition to the list of upcoming fibres. This innovation will improve the textile world everywhere for better. It is important to understand that the knowledge and technology that has been applied to make this new fabric of cellulose fibres, will pave way for the basic research to come up with improved fabrics in the future, and that the scientific discoveries of today will form the basis for improved textile procedures and fabrics of the future.



References:


1. His.fi

2. Iom3.org

3. Puu.aalto.fi

4. Startupfashion.com