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

The yarn thread technology developed by Spinnova is a breakthrough technology. Photo: Mikko Vähäniitty

Yarn from wood fibres sustainably

Paula Bergqvist | 4.6.2015

​Spinnova is developing a method of spinning yarn from wood fibres without environmentally harmful chemical processing. 

Janne Poranen has had a long career with VTT. In the last few years before he joined Spinnova, he was in charge of VTT’s research area focusing on the development of fibre- and bio-based materials. In particular, he was involved in running R&D projects related to wood-based materials.  

Poranen had long aimed to start a business as soon as the right idea came along. He had been following the development of the new wood-fibre technology from its very beginning. 

– A year ago, we entered a situation where the best prospect of taking the technology forward was in the form of a commercial venture. Juha Salmela, my colleague from VTT, had no doubts about participating in the start-up of the company. 

Spinnova was established last autumn and officially opened for business in Jyväskylä in January. A small but motivated group of wood-fibre experts is now working in Jyväskylä. 

The first task was to find partners and financiers. The company succeeded wonderfully in both. 

 

The spider’s web idea

At the turn of the decade, Juha Salmela was a Senior Scientist at VTT. He had the idea for the yarn when working alongside silk researchers at the University of Oxford. The discussions helped him to see the similarities between the construction of a spider’s web and the formation of wood fibres. 

Would the manufacture of yarn from wood fibre succeed based on the ‘spider’s web’ principle? Can wood fibres form in the same direction and become something very like a filament fibre?

A method was quickly developed. Salmela filed an invention notification for the new wood fibre processing method in 2011, and the first patent application at the end of the year. 

The invention is based on understanding the behaviour of various materials i.e. fibre suspension flows – rheology. This answers the question of how a fibre flow can be controlled in such a way that it forms a yarn. 

– Salmela’s idea was tried out at VTT. The first trials showed that wood yarn could be made by passing pulp through a pinhole, so long as the fibres passed through in the right position. Several development stages lie ahead before wood-based yarn can be spun on an industrial scale.

The method was developed up to laboratory scale at VTT, until it became a smoothly working process. Half-metre lengths of yarn were made without continuous yarn processes.  

– At Spinnova, we now need to scale the technique to industrial level. 

– We have tried out the method with various types of wood pulp. We achieved the best results with Finnish wood types – spruce and pine. It looks as though the method works best when processing long natural fibres, which is a good thing from Finland’s perspective. Eucalyptus fibres are short, for example.

– We are currently developing the controllability and stability of the basic process for the method. After that, we will focus on refining the properties of the end product, says Poranen.

Spinnova started the development with small Finnish design company WoodNotes. WoodNotes manufactures fabrics and mats from paper yarns.

The Austrian company Lenzing AG is Spinnova’s industrial partner. Lenzing is one the biggest MMC (Man-Made Cellulose) companies. It uses a viscose and lyocell process to make textile fibres from wood-based material.

Spinnova’s technology is the only one capable of spinning yarn directly from wood fibres. In  viscose and other MMC  processes, pulp is run through a succession of chemical processes which dissolve the cellulose fibres into ­polymers, while removing certain components. Only after this are the fibres reconstituted from the polymer pulp. The yarn is finally spun from staple fibres.

– Our method differs from current MMC processes. We spin the yarn directly from the cellulose pulp. No one has ever been able to do this before, says Poranen.

– This will create a much smaller environmental footprint than modern polymer or cotton fibre processes. Currently raw material demand for textiles increases faster than production of cotton and MMC. This creates a great need for new breakthrough technologies to fulfill future textile demand.

Poranen does not deny that the method involves risks. Spinnova’s plans include the development of a small-scale production environment within 2 to 3 years. 

– At the moment we are in the development phase of the technology. Next we will move on to testing the markets and decide on whether to begin the larger-scale industrial phase.

Spinnova was founded by Poranen and Salmela. Private investors, as well as VTT Ventures and industrial partners joined Spinnova at the end of 2014.

– VTT has many good ideas for similar technology start-ups. But to get things moving, we need more entrepreneurial spirit and risk-taking. 

Spinnova won the international biorefinery competition of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy’s in February with its business plan. The panel mentioned that Spinnova’s fibre yarn represents a breakthrough technology that could revolutionise both the textile and forest industries, and form the basis of major business activities.


 

Juha Salmela (left) and Janne Poranen founded Spinnova in 2014.​ Photo:Mikko Vähäniitty

Spinnova

  • An R&D company which is developing a yarn thread technology that originated at VTT
  • Based in Jyväskylä in Central Finland
  • Founded by Janne Poranen and Juha Salmela
  • Financed by Markku Kaloniemi, Yrjö Neuvo, Timo Soininen, VTT Ventures Ltd, Lenzing AG and Besodos Oy
  • Established in 2014


www.spinnova.fi ​

 

 

VTT Impulsehttps://www.vttresearch.com/ImpulseVTT Impulse
A birthday gift from us to ourselveshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-birthday-gift-from-us-to-ourselves.aspxA birthday gift from us to ourselves
Converting rags to design clotheshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Converting-rags-to-design-clothes.aspxConverting rags to design clothes
Tua Huomo: Energy production and use – smart choices have an impacthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Energy-production-and-use–smart-choices-an-impact.aspxTua Huomo: Energy production and use – smart choices have an impact
LEO brings intelligence to cylindershttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/LEO-brings-intelligence-to-cylinders.aspxLEO brings intelligence to cylinders
S Group believes in a multi-channel modelhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/S-Group-believes-in-a-multi-channel-model.aspxS Group believes in a multi-channel model
Demand for energy storage is growing rapidlyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Demand-for-energy-storage-is-growing-rapidly.aspxDemand for energy storage is growing rapidly
Finland is good investmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-is-good-investment.aspxFinland is good investment
At the digital forefront of mininghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/At-the-digital-forefront-of-mining.aspxAt the digital forefront of mining
Ambassadors of service-mindednesshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Ambassadors-of-service-mindedness.aspxAmbassadors of service-mindedness
Smart industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Smart-industry.aspxSmart industry
Combinostics: Faster diagnoses with artificial intelligencehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Combinostics-Faster-diagnoses-with-artificial-intelligence.aspxCombinostics: Faster diagnoses with artificial intelligence
Automation gives packages wingshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Automation-gives-packages-wings.aspxAutomation gives packages wings
Sensor of tomorrowhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sensor-of-tomorrow.aspxSensor of tomorrow
Quantum standards for the new SI systemhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Quantum-standards-for-the-new-SI-system.aspxQuantum standards for the new SI system
Bioeconomy and circular economyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Bioeconomy-and-circular-economy.aspxBioeconomy and circular economy
Digital societyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digital-society.aspxDigital society
Low carbon energyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Low-carbon-energy.aspxLow carbon energy
Towards patient-centred, personalised healthcarehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Towards-patient-centred-personalised-healthcare.aspxTowards patient-centred, personalised healthcare
Health and wellbeinghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Health-and-wellbeing.aspxHealth and wellbeing
Business developmenthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-development.aspxBusiness development
Smart Citieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Smart-Cities.aspxSmart Cities
Intelligence for machineshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
World in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questionshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/World-in-2030-answers-to-tomorrows-questions.aspxWorld in 2030 - answers to tomorrow’s questions
Pilot plants forge innovative ideas into business activitieshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Pilot-plants-forge-innovative-ideas-into-business-activities.aspxPilot plants forge innovative ideas into business activities
All sights on generationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/All-sights-on-generation.aspxAll sights on generation
Cell screening leads to new cancer treatmentshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Cell-screening-leads-to-new-cancer-treatments.aspxCell screening leads to new cancer treatments
From ideas to major innovationshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/From-drawing-board-to-major-innovation.aspxFrom ideas to major innovations
The story of Finlandhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-story-of-Finland.aspxThe story of Finland
Matti Apunen: At the core of the solutionhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/At-the-core-of-the-solution.aspxMatti Apunen: At the core of the solution
A future without wastewater?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-future-without-wastewater.aspxA future without wastewater?
Digital ecosystems are emerginghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digital-ecosystems-are-emerging.aspxDigital ecosystems are emerging
Finnish fuel cell technology aims for the worldhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-fuel-cell-technology-aims-for-the-world.aspxFinnish fuel cell technology aims for the world
Yarn from wood fibres sustainablyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Yarn-from-wood-fibres-sustainably.aspxYarn from wood fibres sustainably
Posiva is a pioneer in nuclear waste managementhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Posiva-is-a-pioneer-in-nuclear-waste-management.aspxPosiva is a pioneer in nuclear waste management
Sustainability and acceptability for mining operationshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Sustainability-and-acceptability-for-mining-operations.aspxSustainability and acceptability for mining operations
Impulse 1/2018https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2018.aspxImpulse 1/2018
We cannot afford not to have robotshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/We-cannot-afford-not-to-have-robots.aspxWe cannot afford not to have robots
New wood-based materials to help reduce plastic wastehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/New-wood-based-materials-to-help-reduce-plastic-waste.aspxNew wood-based materials to help reduce plastic waste
Simon Kos, Microsoft: AI is forcing its way into patient carehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Simon-Kos-Microsoft-AI-is-forcing-its-way-into-patient-care.aspxSimon Kos, Microsoft: AI is forcing its way into patient care
Impulse 2/2016https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-2-2016.aspxImpulse 2/2016
Designers needed in printed technologyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Designers-needed-in-printed-technology.aspxDesigners needed in printed technology
Business for transportationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-for-transportation.aspxBusiness for transportation
The creative force of change managementhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-creative-force-of-change-management.aspxThe creative force of change management
What's going on in Australia?https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Whats-going-on-in-Australia.aspxWhat's going on in Australia?
Robotics – technology with multi-faceted potentialhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Robotics-technology-with-multi-faceted-potential.aspxRobotics – technology with multi-faceted potential
Media production and housing services are preparing for the 5G networkshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Media-production-and-housing-services-are-preparing-for-the-5G-networks.aspxMedia production and housing services are preparing for the 5G networks
By measuring you can improvehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/By-measuring-you-can-improve.aspxBy measuring you can improve
Minima Processor LTD – World record in energy efficiency accelerates development of IoThttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Minima-Processor-LTD-World-record-in-energy-efficiency-accelerates-development-of-IoT.aspxMinima Processor LTD – World record in energy efficiency accelerates development of IoT
Jari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beatershttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Old-and-new-workhorses-as-recession-beaters.aspxJari Gustafsson: Old and new workhorses as recession beaters