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University turns fiber into yarn

Recycled fiber can be transformed into a yarn and pleasant fabric.

Based on a carbamate dissolution process, the technology has been used to produce recycled fiber.

The method involves dissolving worn and discarded cotton and using it as a raw material for new fiber.

The fabric made from the recycled fiber is smooth with a subdued matt finish and drapes nicely. The fiber feels natural.

The method is much friendlier to the environment than the viscose process, in which carbon disulphide is needed for dissolution. In addition, polyester residues are removed from the cotton material using methods familiar from the pulp industry.

The carbon footprint of recycled fiber produced using carbamate technology is about a third smaller than for cotton and in the same category and as the most environmentally friendly viscose. The water footprint of the recycled fiber is around two per cent that of virgin cotton and ten per cent of viscose.

The fiber’s characteristics rival those of commercial yarns when being spun. Yarn was spun at Tampere University of Technology from discarded cotton turned into fiber. Following this stage, the first model products, gloves and flat-knitted fabrics, were made by a knitwear company.

However R&D is still required in order to achieve process reliability.