Sign In
Information about science based innovations, solid facts to support decision-making, performance and business development for VTT’s partners, customers and anyone interested in high technology and its applications.
A magazine on science, technology and business

​​​Fiber

Infinited Fiber brings radical change to the textile industry

Paula Bergqvist | 24.5.2017

​The world today needs completely new fibres that can be produced without new burdens on the environment. Petri Alava of Infinited Fiber says that the solution is to use waste material, and cellulose extracted from paper waste has very attractive properties. The technology was developed at VTT.

Petri Alava, the firm’s CEO, says that he was seeking an attractive business just when VTT Ventures was seeking an entrepreneur for its fibre technology. Alava has a long history of executive positions in international sales, marketing and business, most recently as the CEO of Kekkilä. 

 
– I was attracted by the craziness of the project; the story behind the technology was particularly interesting. It was clear that the technology had global market potential from the very beginning. VTT had done great work at the customer interface and large companies were already interested. A sufficiently in-depth study had been done of cost-competitiveness and its importance was understood, says Alava.
 

Pulp fibre that circulates forever

Infinited Fiber is using technology developed at VTT, which involves the extraction of cellulose from various cellulose-rich raw materials and its conversion into a solution from which new fibres can be made. After use, it can be recycled via the same process time after time, without affecting quality. 

 
– This is also the origin of the company’s name: Infinited Fiber - fibre made to last forever. 

 
Applications include various textile fibres such as clothes, home textiles, hygiene products and technical textiles.  The fibre can account for 100% of these products, or form a major part of a mixed fabric. 

 
The technology has been developed to an advanced stage at VTT. A major breakthrough was made by testing an idea by Research Professor Ali Harlin five years ago – could old newspapers or banana crates be turned into new fibres? Tests progressed by trial and error and the textile waste ended up on the laboratory bench.

 
iStock-187450909.jpg
 

fiber1.jpgEurope and the United States recycle only around fifteen percent of their textile waste.

There is demand for new fibre

Cotton volumes will not suffice for the world markets. Its availability is forecast to fall by 2 to 3 percent by 2030. Reasons for this change include less arable land due to a shift towards food production. 

 
– Cotton production will fall, even if cultivation becomes more efficient. As availability decreases, demand for fibres will grow and a cellulose fibre shortage will arise on the markets. There is, of course, viscose, but it has a drawback: environmentally harmful carbon disulphide is required in its production.

 
Meanwhile, consumers are demanding that the fashion giants join the circular economy. 

 
– There are good grounds for this, since around 70 million tons of textile waste are taken to landfills each year. Europe and the United States recycle only around 15 percent of their textile waste and even less is recycled elsewhere. Only slightly over half of recycled textiles are used. 

 
– Infinited Fiber can manufacture new fibres from paper waste, which are very close to virgin raw material in terms of their properties. Fibres manufactured from waste textiles have somewhat inferior properties. 

 
– We are engaged in pilots involving the exploration of raw material alternatives and the production of various blends. Profitable production requires raw material in large quantities.

 
The company began operating in October 2016, by interviewing potential investors. 

 
– We held discussions with large international actors and attracted plenty of interest. We also entered into negotiations with VTT on the possibility of starting up production in its Bioruukki pilot plant.
 

Production begins at Bioruukki

Infinited Fiber began production in 2017, in VTT’s Bioruukki research facility in Espoo.

 
– Part of our activities is research-oriented, which we do alongside customers. We are currently developing optimal properties for articles such as jeans and hygiene products.

 
The company’s customer base includes home textile, clothing and hygiene product firms.

 
For example, Alava mentions the American VF Corporation, whose product brands include Lee, Wrangler and Timberland. Fibre recycling is a new departure for this research-intensive company. 

 
– In addition, we have a major home textiles and furniture company as one of our research-oriented partners. The company is researching issues such as the material’s colour receptiveness, durability and UV resistance. The research provided us with valuable information on the optimal properties of fibre products. 

 
Cellulose fibres have antibacterial properties. This is interesting for manufacturers of hygiene products, who are under pressure to move away from polyester and plastic waste, which is causing major environmental problems in the oceans. 

 
– Polyester is currently the main raw material in wiping products; this could be replaced with biodegradable cellulose fibres made from waste materials, says Alava.

 
Although the company’s R&D is being conducted in Finland, production will be done in the world’s textile industry cluster: the Far East. A discussion is under way in Turkey on a letter of intent to set up a fibre factory. 

 
– Finland lacks the required volumes of large-scale business in textile waste, but one commercial plant may be established here. We have major co-partners, with whom we are assessing Finland’s potential as a production site.
 

Product launches over the next few years

Alava anticipates that products will enter the markets by the end of 2019, or 2020. 

 
– Perhaps even before then in a limited market area. We intend to engage in large-scale commercial activities of pulp mill size. 

 
Alava estimates that this would have a EUR 100 million price tag, while a smaller venture would cost around EUR 30 million. 

 
– This is not about a typical startup. The slow schedules and investments necessary for actual commercial activities are making financiers hesitant. 

 
– Funding is scarce in Finland, despite the fine work done by Tekes. Due to the lack of funding instruments in Finland, we are engaging in negotiations in regions such as Asia. 

 
On the day of the interview, Petri Alava was awaiting a financing decision from a group of investors based in Hong Kong.

Processing_3.jpg
 
Polyester is currently the main raw material in wiping products; this could be replaced with biodegradable cellulose fibres made from waste materials.

 
Petri uusi kuva.jpg
 
– Our products will hit the market at the end of 2019 or in 2020, estimates Petri Alava.​

Infinited Fiber Company


 
  • The company uses chemical process technology to manufacture entirely new cellulose fibre from textile and cardboard waste. 
  • Established in October 2016.
  • Headquarters in Espoo.
  • Technology developed by VTT.​

Photos: VTT, iStock​

 

 

Impulsehttp://www.vttresearch.com/ImpulseImpulse
Impulse 1/2015http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2015.aspxImpulse 1/2015
Impulse 2/2015http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2015.aspxImpulse 2/2015
Impulse 1/2014http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2014.aspxImpulse 1/2014
Passion spurs researchhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/passion-spurs-research.aspxPassion spurs research
A future without wastewater?http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-future-without-wastewater.aspxA future without wastewater?
Before information gets lost in numbershttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Before-information-gets-lost-in-numbers.aspxBefore information gets lost in numbers
Better beer based on long-term researchhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Better-beer-based-on-long-term-research.aspxBetter beer based on long-term research
Boost for propeller developmenthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Boost-for-propeller-development.aspxBoost for propeller development
Business angel speaks out: Growth from the international arenahttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-angel-speaks-out-Growth-from-the-international-arena.aspxBusiness angel speaks out: Growth from the international arena
Finland on its way towards low-carbon year 2050http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-on-its-way-towards-low-carbon-year-2050.aspxFinland on its way towards low-carbon year 2050
From ideas to major innovationshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/From-drawing-board-to-major-innovation.aspxFrom ideas to major innovations
Health benefits and efficiency without sacrificing food qualityhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Health-benefits-and-efficiency-without-sacrificing-food-quality.aspxHealth benefits and efficiency without sacrificing food quality
Intelligence for machineshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
International entrepreneurship does not happen overnight it needs to be nurturedhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/International-entrepreneurship-does-not-happen-overnight-it-needs-to-be-nurtured.aspxInternational entrepreneurship does not happen overnight it needs to be nurtured
Jari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beatershttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Old-and-new-workhorses-as-recession-beaters.aspxJari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beaters
Productive use for Finnish biomasshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Productive-use-for-Finnish-biomass.aspxProductive use for Finnish biomass
Quantum standards for the new SI systemhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Quantum-standards-for-the-new-SI-system.aspxQuantum standards for the new SI system
Risk management in an increasingly complex worldhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Risk-management-in-an-increasingly-complex-world.aspxRisk management in an increasingly complex world
Serious efforts to boost the Finnish economyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Serious-efforts-to-boost-the-Finnish-economy.aspxSerious efforts to boost the Finnish economy
Swift and agile in business and in the foresthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Swift-and-agile-in-business-and-in-the-forest.aspxSwift and agile in business and in the forest
The future 5G network proceeds to test phase in Ouluhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-future-5G-network-proceeds-to-test-phase-in-Oulu.aspxThe future 5G network proceeds to test phase in Oulu
The rise of robotic carshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-rise-of-robotic-cars.aspxThe rise of robotic cars
What's going on in Australia?http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Whats-going-on-in-Australia.aspxWhat's going on in Australia?
The creators of the future get down to businesshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-creators-of-the-future-get-down-to-business.aspxThe creators of the future get down to business
Sustainability and acceptability for mining operationshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sustainability-and-acceptability-for-mining-operations.aspxSustainability and acceptability for mining operations
Finland is good investmenthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-is-good-investment.aspxFinland is good investment
Automation gives packages wingshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Automation-gives-packages-wings.aspxAutomation gives packages wings
Intelligent transport – a trump card for Finnish exportshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligent-transport-a-trump-card-for-Finnish-exports.aspxIntelligent transport – a trump card for Finnish exports
Let's make bioeconomy a realityhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Lets-make-bioeconomy-a-reality.aspxLet's make bioeconomy a reality
We cannot afford not to have robotshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/We-cannot-afford-not-to-have-robots.aspxWe cannot afford not to have robots
How to become a leading country in flexible energy production systemshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/How-to-become-a-leading-country-in-flexible-energy-production-systems.aspxHow to become a leading country in flexible energy production systems
Designers needed in printed technologyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Designers-needed-in-printed-technology.aspxDesigners needed in printed technology
Impulse 1/2016http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2016.aspxImpulse 1/2016
Sensor of tomorrowhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sensor-of-tomorrow.aspxSensor of tomorrow
LED foils can be bent into any shapehttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/LED-foils-can-be-bent-into-any-shape.aspxLED foils can be bent into any shape
Impulse 1/2017http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2017.aspxImpulse 1/2017
Miniaturising devices to fit on your palmhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Miniaturising-devices-to-fit-on-your-palm.aspxMiniaturising devices to fit on your palm
Professor Tiina Mattila-Sandholm, Valio: Businesses and researchers need to find each other in a new wayhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Professor-Tiina-Mattila-Sandholm-Valio-Businesses-and-researchers-need-to-find-each-other-in-a-new-way.aspxProfessor Tiina Mattila-Sandholm, Valio: Businesses and researchers need to find each other in a new way
Finnish expertise for solving global problemshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-expertise-for-solving-global-problems.aspxFinnish expertise for solving global problems
More than siliconhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/More-than-just-Silicon.aspxMore than silicon
Could smartglasses replace smartphones? VTT spin-off Dispelix to commercialise a virtual display for glasseshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Could-smartglasses-replace-smartphones-VTT-spin-off-Dispelix-to-commercialise-a-virtual-display-for-glasses.aspxCould smartglasses replace smartphones? VTT spin-off Dispelix to commercialise a virtual display for glasses
Infinited Fiber brings radical change to the textile industryhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Infinited-Fiber-brings-radical-change-to-the-textile-industry.aspxInfinited Fiber brings radical change to the textile industry
World in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questionshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/World-in-2030-answers-to-tomorrows-questions.aspxWorld in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questions
Industrial 3D printing takes offhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Industrial-3D-printing-takes-off.aspxIndustrial 3D printing takes off
Cleaner city traffic with wood-based dieselhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cleaner-city-traffic-with-wood-based-diesel.aspxCleaner city traffic with wood-based diesel
Advancing cyber security on several frontshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Advancing-cyber-security-on-several-fronts.aspxAdvancing cyber security on several fronts
Demand for energy storage is growing rapidlyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Demand-for-energy-storage-is-growing-rapidly.aspxDemand for energy storage is growing rapidly
Developers of the futurehttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Developers-of-the-future.aspxDevelopers of the future
Defence Forces seek a head starthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Defence-Forces-seek-a-head-start.aspxDefence Forces seek a head start

CONTACT US

P.O. Box 1000, FI-02044 VTT, Finland
Tel. exchange +358 20 722 111
Opening hours Mon - Fri 8:00 - 16:30,
UTC +3 time zone

CUSTOMER SERVICE

info@vtt.fi
Tel. +358 20 722 7070
Opening hours Mon - Fri 9:00 - 11:00 and 12:00 - 15:00,
UTC +3 time zone