The company, of Nedlands, Western Australia, says that 250 kg of the fibres, called Nullarbor-20, were manufactured through the trial, which was conducted at the facilities of its partner, Birla Cellulose, in Mumbai, India(1). The feedstock for the trial comprised a blend of 20% microbial cellulose and 80% conventional wood pulp. Nanollose will now work to increase the amounts of lyocell fibres produced, and the amounts of microbial cellulose that they contain, in subsequent pilot-scale spins.
In completing the pilot-scale spin, the Nanollose and Birla technical teams had to procure microbial cellulose produced to carefully defined specifications, establish quality-control and optimisation procedures, and develop drying and purification methods.
According to Nanollose's Executive Chairman, Wayne Best, the successful trial is a significant milestone in his company’s development and provides "clear proof of concept". He adds that in the lead-up to the completion of the project, Nanollose has "been approached by a number of notable potential partners, and is pleased to now be in a position to enter into formal negotiations for the supply of sample fibre, yarns and/or fabric for testing purposes and due diligence for future offtake agreements."
In 2021, the market for lyocell fibres was valued at US$1.13 billion and is projected to be worth US$1.71 billion by 2027, increasing in size at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 7%—significantly faster than the CAGR of the overall fibre industry (natural and manmade fibres) of 3%(2).