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Move Over, Cotton: Fortum and Spinnova Develop First Clothes Made from Wheat Straw

Now people can eat their Wheaties and wear them, too.

European energy company Fortum and sustainable fiber firm Spinnova have introduced the first prototype clothing made from wheat straw.

The joint development of the sustainable fiber has a low environmental impact based on its raw material extraction, processing and manufacture.  The prototype group includes a knitted T-shirt, as well as a jacket and skirt made of a woven fabric on organic cotton warp.

“We are very excited to present this revolutionary textile,” Heli Antila, vice president of biobased solutions at Fortum, said. “Today, wheat straw is mostly discarded or even burned in the fields. As it can now be used in numerous textile applications, this opens up huge possibilities globally.”

Antila said the cooperation is a tangible step toward Fortum’s strategy to build options for significant new businesses that improve resource efficiency and provide smart solutions for a cleaner world.

“We are all very proud of this amazing collaborative accomplishment,” Spinnova CEO Janne Poranen said. “This was a very fast journey from the first trials to real, appealing fabric materials. This shows that wheat straw-based fiber is well on its way to being a drop-in product of the most sustainable kind.”

The companies announced their partnership earlier this year after testing various biomasses. The showcased straw was first processed with sustainable fractionation technology developed by Fortum’s associate company Chempolis Oy.

Spinnova’s technology, presently in a pilot phase, turns microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) directly into fiber mechanically without any dissolving or harmful chemical processes. Fibers in the prototype line were produced in Spinnova’s pilot facility in Finland, which the company said means its technology can be applied to various biomasses without further technology development.

Fortum and Spinnova plan to establish sustainable fiber production in Fortum’s future biorefineries that will use residual biomasses such as agro waste. The biomass will be processed into materials for bioproducts of lignocellulosic origin, as well as cellulosic products.