Sectors covered: Technological innovation in textiles and clothing
Innovation priority: Smart, high-performance materials
ELIIT funding: €70 000
There is a growing need among textile, clothing and footwear companies for sustainable materials that help to preserve ecosystems and mitigate the effects of climate change. This need is reinforced by increasing demand for such materials from customers who are aware of the textile industry's negative environmental and social impacts.
In addition, the scarcity of natural resources such as water will have a massive impact on the sourcing of materials. At the same time, new regulations could compel the sector to switch to more environmentally friendly business models.
What's the goal?
In this context, the ‘Iroony hemp materials development by ionic liquid technology’ (IHMDILT) project, which brings together French SME RBX Créations and German technology provider the Institutes of Textile and Fibre Research Denkendorf (DITF), aims to develop new materials that combine a low environmental impact with high levels of comfort and performance. The materials will be commercialised under the Iroony ® brand name.
Hemp has high ecological potential, and RBX Créations has developed a process to add value by turning by-products of hemp seeds into cellulose pulp. DITF’s HighPerCell (high-performance cellulose filaments) ionic liquid -based technology is then used to implement an environmentally friendly spinning process based on one unique solvent. This transforms pulp into versatile, high-performing and biodegradable textile fibres.
One key challenge is for RBX Créations to set up an industrial facility close to agricultural areas to produce Iroony® materials. Another is to ensure a long-term partnership so that the HighPerCell® technology can be used on increasing quantities of hemp to supply Iroony® for numerous brands and end-products. Continuous upscaling of this nature would be a major step in making the EU textile sector cleaner and more resilient, thereby contributing to agricultural sustainability.
How has ELIIT helped?
ELIIT has offered the opportunity to test the innovative HighPerCell® spinning process on Iroony® hemp cellulose from sustainable agriculture and transform it for the first time. The different trials have proved their perfect compatibility, resulting in various textile prototypes.
Throughout ELIIT’s support, the partners persuaded companies to try out these new prototype materials. Feedback was iteratively collected by RBX and shared with DITF to continue development and meet users’ expectations.
By the end of the period, RBX had secured a partnership with a key textile and fashion player to use Iroony® materials. Various other brands in the clothing, sportswear and footwear sectors have also expressed an interest.
Following ELIIT’s successful results, the collaboration between RBX and DITF has been further pursued and resulted in new trials and production batches of Iroony® materials by HighPerCell® technology, with the purpose of upscaling.
The project Next Generation hemp filaments by HighPerCell® technology has been jointly awarded to RBX and DITF with an honourable mention at the International Conference on Natural Fibers (ICNF) in 2021.
Meet the partners
Established in the southwest of France, RBX Créations focuses on materials with low environmental impact. It began by launching Gorfoo® - a clothing and accessories brand - using materials such as ramie, traditional hemp, cork, jute and flax. Since 2018, it has been developing new materials from ligno-cellulose of sustainable feedstock, particularly hemp and flax. This is in close cooperation with farmers for the textile market under the Iroony® brand.
RBX aims to become a leading European producer and supplier of such materials. Its research and development activities have received support from ADEME, the French Agency for Ecological Transition, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region, the Haute-Saintonge community under the EU’s LEADER rural development programme and the ;Adour-Garonne water agency
The largest textile research centre in Europe, DITF performs interdisciplinary public research, implements industrial projects and offers fibre and textile-related services for organisations in various sectors. Its biopolymer materials competence centre has extensive expertise in wet and air gap spinning of cellulose fibres and other biopolymers. DITF also has in-depth knowledge of fibre analysis and processing along the entire textile value chain.
SME: RBX Créations
Year of creation: 2016
Tech provider: DITF
Year of creation: 1921