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Chinese textile industry’s innovative biomass fibre

Hismer Bio-Tech based in Ningyang County, Tai'an City, in east China's Shandong Province, is manufacturing biomass fibre from shrimp and crab shells. Textile companies have long been dependent on crude oil when making common synthetic materials such as nylon or polyester but that could soon change with companies turning to biomass fibres.

Indeed, piles of shrimp and crab shells emit a strong odour but after going through the company's processing machine, the shells are turned from food waste to chitosan fibre that is indistinguishable from other synthetic fibres The biomass fibre can wean textile companies' off their reliance on crude oil.

Hu said Hismer collects 10,000 tonnes of the shell waste from seafood processing companies in China's ports of Qingdao, Yantai, Dalian and Ningbo a year for the production of some 6,000 tonnes of biomass fibre. The fibre is then used by a variety of garment producers. The fabric is not only used for making socks, underwear, bedding but also medical products such as masks and sanitary pads as well as special cloth used in aerospace planes, Hu said.

Innovation has saved the textile company from going bankrupt. The factory was in financial trouble due to rising cost at home and stagnant export market. Five years ago, the textile producer developed production technology and equipment for making the biomass material.

The company has developed materials used in China's "Shenzhou" manned spacecraft and "Tiangong" space lab, as they are mildew-proof and resistant to fire, static electricity and odour.