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Fibers & Textiles

By Rainer Hagen Product Manager PLA Uhde Inventa-Fischer Berlin, Germany

Advantages in land use are commonly not attributed to PLA. It is well known that PLA is made from starch or sugar containing crops which need land for growing. Agricultural land is a limited resource and PLA has to compete with food crops (until non-food raw materials will be available). Fig. 2 represents the findings of a literature review conducted to compare land requirements per ton of fiber, including various natural fibers, cellulose based fibers and PLA fibers. Of course, petrochemical fibers do not require land apart from the industrial site plot where the production plants for the polymer and its precursors are located. PLA and Lyocell (cellulose based) fibers show the lowest land use, less than half of all natural fibers and viscose. Wool has the highest requirement (pastures) because of its specific production conditions.

1000 900 800 700 600 500 400 300 200 100 0

fib re fib He re m p fib re W Vi o sc ol os e fib Ly r oc el e l fi br M e od al PP fib /P r ET e fib N r e ylo n Ac fibr e ry lic fib re PL A fib re ax

n tto Co

20,000

Fl

(in l / kg fibre)

Water consumption

Fig. 3: Water use of fibres (from literature review) Source: nova-Institute, Germany, 2013

As some scientists consider, fresh water will be mankind‘s most limited resource in future, various fiber materials are compared in Fig. 3 as to their water consumption per kilogram. Apart from wool (almost no water consumption), PLA fibers show advantages over petrochemical (especially PET) and cellulose based fibers. Cotton requires the highest amount of water. This is explained by the need for irrigation of the crop which is done excessively in some parts of the world. The crops for PLA production usually do not need any irrigation. Environmental aspects should, at least in part, drive substitution of PET and cotton by PLA. Other nonenvironmental growth driving factors for textile PLA will be discussed below.

Info: Dr. Rainer Hagen is Product Manager of Uhde InventaFischer’s proprietary polylactic acid technology, PLAneo®. The engineering company is part of ThyssenKrupp Uhde’s Polymer Division and offers together with ThyssenKrupp Uhde Biotechnology cost-efficient processes for the production of non-petroleum-based chemicals as well as plastics, such as lactic acid, lactide and polylactic acid together with succinic acid and polybutylene succinate to fulfill the vision of sustainably replacing a considerable amount of conventionally produced materials in the near future.

Range of results Single score

bioplastics MAGAZINE [05/13] Vol. 8

13

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bioplastics MAGAZINE 05/2013  

bioplastics MAGAZINE is the only independent trade magazine worldwide dedicated to bioplastics (i.e. plastics made from renewable resources...

bioplastics MAGAZINE 05/2013  

bioplastics MAGAZINE is the only independent trade magazine worldwide dedicated to bioplastics (i.e. plastics made from renewable resources...

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