Australia-based biotechnology company Nanollose is going a step further by developing plant-free cellulose from “industrial organic and agricultural waste products.” The Plant-Free Cellulose can then be turned into a sustainable rayon fiber, providing an alternative to plant-based fabrics.
The fibre, which has been branded as Nullarbor, is derived using microbes that convert biomass waste products from beer, wine and liquid food industries into microbial cellulose. This microbial cellulose has been sourced from the company’s Indonesian supply chain partner.According to Nanollose, the manufacturing process requires very little land, water or energy consumption unlike conventional rayon, which is sourced from wood and involves a wood pulping process. It is also produced using standard industrial textile processing and manufacturing equipment, meaning no retro-fitting would be required for future partners.
The raw materials used to manufacture much of today’s textiles requires a lot of agricultural land to be given over to plant-based production, not to mention heavy use of chemicals to protect against pests and process the fibers, as well as lots of precious water.
The company currently uses coconut by-products from Indonesia, which are synthesized and converted into usable rayon fibers courtesy of the company’s proprietary technology. These existing industry sources are said to be sufficient for production during the pilot phase of the project, but Nanollose intends to make use of waste from larger industries when full-scale production kicks off.