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Spinnova Completes New Pilot Factory for Wood-Based Fiber

Finnish textile company Spinnova has completed building a new pilot factory as it prepares to go commercial with its sustainable wood-based fiber.

Spinnova said the facility, in Jyväskylä, Finland, is an important step on its path toward large-volume production of its new fiber that involves converting wood pulp directly into fiber without using chemical solvents. Spinnova’s said its manufacturing method uses about 99 percent less water than cotton production. A fabric made with Spinnova fiber can be reused, recycled or composted, which further reduces the product’s environmental footprint.

The industrial-scale line was built this fall and the project was completed last week. Ramping up the line will take the first quarter of 2019, the company said. The planned capacity of the pilot line is 100 to 400 tons annually.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our team and contractors for successfully carrying out this massive project so fast,” said Spinnova’s CEO Janne Poranen. “This is a greenfield factory in every way imaginable, and yet with a genius idea, careful planning and meticulous implementation, everything has gone as planned.”

The fiber-spinning technology concept was invented by Spinnova, with support from mostly local suppliers, including engineering partner Elomatic and installation partner Betamet. The pilot factory was loan financed by Business Finland and OP Bank.

Spinnova is now looking for committed commercial partners to run product development trials next year, when there will be enough fiber for testing on real fabrics, creating prototype products. Once Spinnova has proof of concept in the pilot factory, it will be able to create enough volume for full-scale production and have the ability to license the product.

“This fully correlates with our vision of scaling the sustainable fiber production into big commercial volumes in the future for maximum environmental impact,” Poranen said.

The technology is also suitable for other bio-based raw materials, Spinnova noted. The company’s raw material commitment is to only use Forest Stewardship Council-certified wood or waste streams, processed with zero harmful chemicals.

The wood fiber manufacturing method was originally developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Spinnova has continued to develop the technique. One of Spinnova’s partners is Austria-based Lenzing AG, one of the world’s largest wood-based fiber manufacturers, with products including Tencel, Modal and viscose. It also has the support of Finnish fashion firm Marimekko.