Agro-Textiles made of renewable resources
Decreasing crude oil resources and therefore higher prices and climate conventions such as the Kyoto protocol are the challenges to be met by the oil-based economy leading to a repositioning of companies strategies. In the foreground of replacing such sources are the development and application of bio-based fuels and polymers, particularly when it will be possible to develop high performance polymers for different applications
Technological and economic studies predict excellent chances for agro-textiles meeting a fast growing market demand. This market segment is actually served foremost with products made from polyolefins and these reach around 200000 t/annually in Europe. Bio-based polymers, also in combination with natural fibres are offering interesting alternatives, particularly when the characteristics allow a biological degradation in line with their specific application. Additional intrinsic characteristics of bio-polymers, such as fastness to light or minimal inflammableness are destined to give technological advantages and multiple forms of applications.
In this framework, the EU Commission has funded a composite project (no. 213501) with the short title “BioAgroTex” that was executed by a consortium of European Research Institutes and industrial partners. The general task was to develop a material and a process allowing that multi-filament yarns, monofils or ribbons can be produced and transformed to knits, fabrics or nonwovens. A working group formed with Centexbel (B), ITCF Denkendorf (D), Tecanaro (D), Texinov (F), DS Fibres (B) and Bonar (B) developed a up to 100 % reusable product that was successfully tested in practice as a textile to protect crops from insects.
The product is based upon a resource consisting of PLA polymilkacid with additives to smoothen extrusion, tenacity and crystallisation, plus additives to stabilise hydrolysis, a method has been developed to apply a hotmelt spun polymer compound as a granulate. Afterwards a extrusion winding process had to be found and was then optimised in order to manufacture a stable and stocking and expandable textile structures transformed into further process yarn. This was achieved with an FDY process where a monofil yarn (22 dtex) and with a maximum 3000 m/min spuling speed . The resulting yarn was processed on a conventional knitting machine to a protective textile to prevent crop from insects. The excellent results allowed the take-up of manufacturing of the product by Texinov (F), and it is marketed under the brands of FILBIO®PLA and ULTRAVENT®PLA.