Interview with Dr. Haio Harms

Dr. Haio Harms
Dr. Haio Harms
Executive Chairman
Kelheim fibres
Kelheim fibres

What are the special applications of water repellent fibres?

Our water repellent viscose fibre combines the advantages of viscose fibres – such as softness and skin-friendliness – with a durable hydrophobic effect. In textiles, it is perfect for functional clothing or sportswear. As nonwoven, it can be used for wound care products or the cover- or back-sheets of hygiene products, e.g. for nappies, sanitary towels or incontinence pads. It is fully biodegradable and can be perfectly combined with our different highly liquid absorbent viscose speciality fibres to create a 100% compostable and therefore completely environmentally friendly disposable product.

There is lot of energy consumed while recycling of disposables. How can that be reduced?

I don’t want to comment on the recycling of synthetic fibres. Viscose fibres are fully biodegradable and can therefore be composted to reproduce new biomass. In incineration plants, viscose fibres are completely destroyed and generate only low emission values. It makes much more sense to burn a used product based on wood (“wood biorefinery”) than to directly burn virgin wood chips!

Do you think nonwovens can replace the wovens? To what extent this is possible?

Generations of engineers have tried to develop technologies to replace wovens by more economic nonwovens. So far, however, they could not come up with a solution matching the properties made possible by the orientation of the individual fibres in the textile manufacturing process. The balance between price pressure and ecological concerns will be the key to future consumer trends: It has to be seen how the trends towards cheaper and disposable products will continue. Certain textile products could possibly be replaced by nonwovens in the future.

What are the recent major achievements by your company in the field of textile?

We have a very strong focus on innovations - the result for the textile industry is a range of new viscose speciality fibres which offer an additional benefit for the customer. One example is our Danufil Deep Dye fibre with a dye absorption capacity 40 times higher than a standard viscose fibre. It is environmentally very beneficial: It helps to reduce processing time and, consumption of dyestuff, energy and chemicals and offers significant logistical benefits in the dyeing of melanges. Another example is our Olea fibre - the first viscose fibre with intrinsic water repellent properties. By incorporating a fully biodegradable additive into the fibre's matrix during the spinning process, the effect is durable and cannot be washed out. At the same time, we were able to maintain the typical properties of a viscose fibre as its softness and skin-friendliness. These fibres offer a perfect combination of the properties of synthetic and natural fibres and are ideally suited for functional clothing or sportswear.
Published on: 23/09/2013

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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