Swiss textile technology company HeiQ introduced Tuesday what it called “a potential game-changer for the textile industry”–HeiQ AeoniQ, a high-performance cellulose yarn based on a new fiber derived from carbon negative materials.
During a virtual event to launch the new fiber and explain its characteristics and commercial potential, HeiQ executives said HeiQ AeoniQ is derived from third-generation cellulosic biopolymers and is advancing to pilot production ahead of mass commercialization.
The Lycra Company is the first to join HeiQ as a development partner. In July, HeiQ and the Lycra Company entered into a broad-based collaboration across multiple technology and brand platforms aimed at bringing innovative, quality-enhancing and sustainable textiles to consumers. Centonze said the plan is to have 20 brand partners at inception, five operational partners globally and two strategic partners, which includes The Lycra Company and an yet-unnamed other.
HeiQ co-founder and CEO Carlo Centonze said HeiQ AeoniQ is meant to offer a sustainable and natural alternative to polyester and nylon, synthetic fibers that are petroleum based. Centonze said that HeiQ AeoniQ high-performance yarn is positioned to potentially replace synthetic filament yarns, which constitute over 60 percent of global annual textile output’s 108 million metric tons.
In addition, when compared to conventional cellulosic products, HeiQ AeoniQ yarns do not draw on arable land, pesticides or fertilizer in their production, Centonze said. HeiQ AeoniQ yarns are made out of cellulosic biopolymers that during growth bind carbon from the atmosphere while generating oxygen, Martin Gebert-Germ, a viscose filament yarn expert, said on the press conference. Centonze said HeiQ AeoniQ is a “climate-positive, decarbonizing yarn with outstanding ESG sustainability principles.”
HeiQ AeoniQ yarns are designed for cradle-to-cradle circularity and can be recycled repeatedly while maintaining consistent fiber quality. Asked by Sourcing Journal to expound on that point, Centonze said, “One of the particularities of our process and that we can take back the AeoniQ yarn and fully recycle it in our process the same way that we can take all cellulosic sources and build into our spinning process.”
“This is one of the big advantages and, obviously, it is important that the brands teach the design of products for recycling,” he said.
The manufacturing process for is expected to consume 99 percent less water than cotton yarns and HeiQ AeoniQ is designed to offer comparable performance properties to polyester, nylon and conventional regenerated cellulose yarns. HeiQ is building a $5 million pilot plant in Herzogenburg, Austria that will have an annual capacity of 100 tons by the second quarter of 2022, Centonze revealed. The company is also building what he called “Gigafactory One” at the same location that will be able to produce 30,000 toms per year by the fourth quarter of 2014 and deliver substantial commercial shipments by the first quarter of 2025, he added.
Centonze said HeiQ is inviting a maximum of 20 sustainability driven brand partners to be the first to market with products made of this game-changing future yarn. He announces that The Lycra Company will be a primary apparel development partner for HeiQ AeoniQ yarns with an exclusivity for its forte in stretch and performance fabrics. The Lycra Company has developed a complete range of certified, sustainable products and these fibers have the potential to be combined with HeiQ AeoniQ yarn to create decarbonizing and degradable elastic fabrics.
“By bringing HeiQ AeoniQ yarn to the textile industry, we will reduce our dependence on oil-based fibers, help decarbonize our planet and reduce the impact of the industry on climate change,” Centonze said. “Our yarn is a versatile alternative to polyester, nylon and even conventional cellulosics, and therefore has huge industry transformation potential.”
Gebert-Germ said HeiQ is expected to be priced between what polyester and viscose cost. He explained that HeiQ AeoniQ yarns can be texturized, dope dyed, shaped to functional cross sections and utilized in standard textile processes. He said it “matches polyester and nylon in quick dry and stretchable qualities, viscose in smoothness and coolness, and cotton in “fullness and coziness.” It also features high yarn and filament count ability, strong tenacity and elongation, and low shrinkage.