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
A man driven by optimism and curiosityhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/A-man-driven-by-optimism-and-curiosity.aspxA man driven by optimism and curiosity
An export product tougher than nailshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/An-export-product-tougher-than-nails.aspxAn export product tougher than nails
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
Before information gets lost in numbershttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Before-information-gets-lost-in-numbers.aspxBefore information gets lost in numbers
Brazil paves the way for bioenergyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Brazil-paves-the-way-for-bioenergy.aspxBrazil paves the way for bioenergy
Business for transportationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Business-for-transportation.aspxBusiness for transportation
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
Converting rags to design clotheshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Converting-rags-to-design-clothes.aspxConverting rags to design clothes
Defence Forces seek a head starthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Defence-Forces-seek-a-head-start.aspxDefence Forces seek a head start
Designers needed in printed technologyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Designers-needed-in-printed-technology.aspxDesigners needed in printed technology
Developers of the futurehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Developers-of-the-future.aspxDevelopers of the future
Energy solutions and the 2050 goalshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Energy-solutions-and-the-2050-goals.aspxEnergy solutions and the 2050 goals
Health benefits and efficiency without sacrificing food qualityhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Health-benefits-and-efficiency-without-sacrificing-food-quality.aspxHealth benefits and efficiency without sacrificing food quality
How to become a leading country in flexible energy production systemshttps://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
Intelligence for machineshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligence-for-machines.aspxIntelligence for machines
LEO brings intelligence to cylindershttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/LEO-brings-intelligence-to-cylinders.aspxLEO brings intelligence to cylinders
Petri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deedshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Petri-Kalliokoski-Artificial-intelligence-moves-from-words-to-deeds.aspxPetri Kalliokoski: Artificial intelligence moves from words to deeds
Salofa creates rapid tests for monitoring health and the environmenthttps://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
Same old routine for the next 100 yearshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Same-old-routine-for-the-next-100-years.aspxSame old routine for the next 100 years
Taking the bioeconomy to a new level through digitalisationhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Taking-the-bioeconomy-to-a-new-level-through-digitalisation.aspxTaking the bioeconomy to a new level through digitalisation
Let's make bioeconomy a realityhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Lets-make-bioeconomy-a-reality.aspxLet's make bioeconomy a reality
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
Jaakko Eskola: ”The ability to reinvent yourself is vital to success.”https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/”The-ability-to-reinvent-yourself-is-vital-to-success”.aspxJaakko Eskola: ”The ability to reinvent yourself is vital to success.”
Intelligent transport – a trump card for Finnish exportshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Intelligent-transport-a-trump-card-for-Finnish-exports.aspxIntelligent transport – a trump card for Finnish exports
Impulse 1/2018https://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Impulse-1-2018.aspxImpulse 1/2018
Is life cycle assessment method suitable to guide policy decisions? Case of European sustainability 
criteria for biofuelshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Is-life-cycle-assessment-method-suitable-to-guide-policy-decisions.aspxIs life cycle assessment method suitable to guide policy decisions? Case of European sustainability 
criteria for biofuels
Finnish wheels will keep on turninghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finnish-wheels-will-keep-on-turning.aspxFinnish wheels will keep on turning
The future 5G network proceeds to test phase in Ouluhttps://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
Clearing the way for new materials with ChemSheet technologyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Clearing-the-way-for-new-materials-with-ChemSheet-technology.aspxClearing the way for new materials with ChemSheet technology
More than siliconhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/More-than-just-Silicon.aspxMore than silicon
It is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growthhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/It-is-the-duty-of-entrepreneurs-to-seek-growth.aspxIt is the duty of entrepreneurs to seek growth
More speed to network services with 5Ghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/More-speed-to-network-services-with-5G.aspxMore speed to network services with 5G
Finland is aiming towards smart transporthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Finland-is-aiming-towards smart-transport.aspxFinland is aiming towards smart transport
Global demand for oats is increasing stronglyhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Global-demand-for-oats-is-increasing-strongly.aspxGlobal demand for oats is increasing strongly
The perfect pilot environment for Arctic solutionshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-perfect-pilot-environment-for-Arctic-solutions.aspxThe perfect pilot environment for Arctic solutions
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
Brought to you by Paptic: Wood fibre challenges plastic in carrier bagshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Brought-to-you-by-Paptic-Wood-fibre-challenges-plastic-in-carrier-bags.aspxBrought to you by Paptic: Wood fibre challenges plastic in carrier bags
Raw material for fuels, chemicals and food from atmospheric carbon dioxidehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Raw-material-for-fuels-chemicals-and-food-from-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide.aspxRaw material for fuels, chemicals and food from atmospheric carbon dioxide
Transport gets smarthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Transport-gets-smart.aspxTransport gets smart
New breed of business from cellulosehttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/New-breed-of-business-from-cellulose.aspxNew breed of business from cellulose
At the digital forefront of mininghttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/At-the-digital-forefront-of-mining.aspxAt the digital forefront of mining
Automation gives packages wingshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Automation-gives-packages-wings.aspxAutomation gives packages wings
The energy sector is jointly preparing for cyber threatshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/The-energy-sector-is-jointly-preparing-for-cyber-threats.aspxThe energy sector is jointly preparing for cyber threats
Digitalisation of the shipping industry requires cutting-edge researchhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Digitalisation-of-the-shipping-industry-requires-cutting-edge-research.aspxDigitalisation of the shipping industry requires cutting-edge research
Novel Cellulose products and applicationshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Novel-Cellulose-products-and-applications.aspxNovel Cellulose products and applications
Three-dimensional virtual reality and augmented reality – Towards new worldshttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Three-dimensional-virtual-reality-and-augmented-reality-Towards-new-worlds.aspxThree-dimensional virtual reality and augmented reality – Towards new worlds
Infinited Fiber brings radical change to the textile industryhttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Infinited-Fiber-brings-radical-change-to-the-textile-industry.aspxInfinited Fiber brings radical change to the textile industry
Swift and agile in business and in the foresthttps://www.vttresearch.com/Impulse/Pages/Swift-and-agile-in-business-and-in-the-forest.aspxSwift and agile in business and in the forest

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