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Australian company Nanollose develops plant-free viscose

Australian company Nanollose has produced what it believes to be the world’s first plant-free viscose fiber. This gives Nanollose a significant opportunity in offering a sustainable alternative for plant-based fibers such as viscose that can have significant environmental impacts. Viscose, also referred to as rayon, is a well-established fiber made from cellulose predominantly derived from wood pulp and used to make everything from apparel to home furnishings.

However, there are significant environmental concerns surrounding production as a considerable amount of trees are cut down, chipped and then treated with hazardous chemicals followed by an energy intensive purification process to source the cellulose required for viscose production. Unlike conventional rayon, Nanollose’s sustainable plant-free viscose is derived using microbes that convert biomass waste products from the beer, wine and liquid food industries into microbial cellulose, in a process that takes less than one month and requires minimal land, water or energy. The microbial cellulose is then converted into viscose fibers using the Nanollose technology that is compatible with existing industry processing and manufacturing equipment.

Nanollose initially plans to tap into the established coconut industry to secure a supply of plant-free microbial cellulose, which will then be processed into viscose and other fibers using Nanollose technologies.