Field biomass is largely an unutilised resource that is either left on the ground or, in some countries, burned at its growing site. At the core of Fortum’s Bio2X research and development programme is the utilisation of wheat straw to create high-value bioproducts, in addition to grains for food. One of the many areas of application is ecologically produced textile fibres. In collaboration with Spinnova, a Finnish supplier of new fibre technology, Bio2X has developed the first textile fibre made from fractionated wheat straw. The companies were first in the world to showcase fabric samples and a sample knitted shirt made from the fibre as well as a jacket and skirt made of a woven fabric at the Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference in Vancouver, Canada, in October 2019.
From wheat straw to clothing
In terms of life-cycle analyses, fractionated straw pulp and the textile fibres derived from it are very comparable to commercially available fibres that are least environmentally burdensome, like organic cotton and lyocell. Very little water is used in the process, the chemicals used are non-toxic, and the energy is generally produced with renewable energy production forms, so the CO2 emissions of the process are minor. With high resource efficiency fractionation, only about 5% of the original field biowaste goes unused. This share can be utilised in the energy production for the process.