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
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
Impulse 1/2014http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2014.aspxImpulse 1/2014
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
Challenges conceal opportunitieshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Challenges-conceal-opportunities.aspxChallenges conceal opportunities
Cyber security requires more than just technological competenceshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cyber-security-requires-more-than-just-technological-competences.aspxCyber security requires more than just technological competences
Defence Forces seek a head starthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Defence-Forces-seek-a-head-start.aspxDefence Forces seek a head start
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
VTT Impulsehttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/MainPage.aspxVTT Impulse
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
The creative force of change managementhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-creative-force-of-change-management.aspxThe creative force of change management
Automation gives packages wingshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Automation-gives-packages-wings.aspxAutomation gives packages wings
Modelling and simulation facilitateshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Modelling-and-simulation-facilitates.aspxModelling and simulation facilitates
Impulse 2/2017http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2017.aspxImpulse 2/2017
Impulse 1/2015http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2015.aspxImpulse 1/2015
Impulse 2/2014http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2014.aspxImpulse 2/2014
Impulse 2/2016http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2016.aspxImpulse 2/2016
Impulse 1/2016http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2016.aspxImpulse 1/2016
Impulse 2/2015http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2015.aspxImpulse 2/2015
Impulse 1/2017http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2017.aspxImpulse 1/2017
Before information gets lost in numbershttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Before-information-gets-lost-in-numbers.aspxBefore information gets lost in numbers
Petri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deedshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Petri-Kalliokoski-Artificial-intelligence-moves-from-words-to-deeds.aspxPetri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deeds
Ambassadors of service-mindednesshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Ambassadors-of-service-mindedness.aspxAmbassadors of service-mindedness
Brazil paves the way for bioenergyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Brazil-paves-the-way-for-bioenergy.aspxBrazil paves the way for bioenergy
The rise of robotic carshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-rise-of-robotic-cars.aspxThe rise of robotic cars
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
What's going on in Australia?http://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Whats-going-on-in-Australia.aspxWhat's going on in Australia?
Looking through their eyeshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Looking-through-their-eyes.aspxLooking through their eyes
Maintenance support for astronautshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Maintenance-support-for-astronauts.aspxMaintenance support for astronauts
Cell screening leads to new cancer treatmentshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cell-screening-leads-to-new-cancer-treatments.aspxCell screening leads to new cancer treatments
Same old routine for the next 100 yearshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Same-old-routine-for-the-next-100-years.aspxSame old routine for the next 100 years
Food in transitionhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Food-in-transition.aspxFood in transition
By measuring you can improvehttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/By-measuring-you-can-improve.aspxBy measuring you can improve
All sights on generationhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/All-sights-on-generation.aspxAll sights on generation
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
Comfy but energy efficient homeshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Comfy-but-energy-efficient-homes.aspxComfy but energy efficient homes
Designers needed in printed technologyhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Designers-needed-in-printed-technology.aspxDesigners needed in printed technology
Finnish expertise for solving global problemshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-expertise-for-solving-global-problems.aspxFinnish expertise for solving global problems
From ideas to major innovationshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/From-drawing-board-to-major-innovation.aspxFrom ideas to major innovations
Intelligence for machineshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
It is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growthhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/It-is-the-duty-of-entrepreneurs-to-seek-growth.aspxIt is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growth
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
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
New power for the electronics industryhttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/New-power-for-the-electronics-industry.aspxNew power for the electronics industry
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
Advancing cyber security on several frontshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Advancing-cyber-security-on-several-fronts.aspxAdvancing cyber security on several fronts
Salofa creates rapid tests for monitoring health and the environmenthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Salofa-creates-rapid-tests-for-monitoring-health-and-the-environment.aspxSalofa creates rapid tests for monitoring health and the environment
Finland is good investmenthttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-is-good-investment.aspxFinland is good investment
The perfect pilot environment for Arctic solutionshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-perfect-pilot-environment-for-Arctic-solutions.aspxThe perfect pilot environment for Arctic solutions
Pilot plants forge innovative ideas into business activitieshttp://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Pilot-plants-forge-innovative-ideas-into-business-activities.aspxPilot plants forge innovative ideas into business activities

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 +2 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 +2 time zone