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TU Munich: innovative materials with carbon fibers made from algae

In combination with granite or other types of hard rock, carbon fibers make possible all-new construction and building materials. If the carbon fibers are produced from algae oil, production of the innovative materials extracts more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it sets free. A research project spearheaded by the Technical University of Munich/Germany (TUM), Munich/Germany, is to further advance these technologies.
The objective of the project “Green Carbon” started on July 1, 2019 is to develop manufacturing processes for polymers and carbon-based light-weight construction materials based on algae which may be utilized e.g. in the aviation and automotive industry.
The development of the various processes is accompanied by technological, economical and sustainability analyses. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF), Berlin/Germany, has dedicated funds amounting to around €6.5 million to fund the research at the TU Munich.
Due to their fast growth, microalgae can actively store the greenhouse gas CO2 in the form of biomass. CO2 is mainly bound in sugars and algae oil. These can be used in chemical and biotechnological processes to produce precursors for a variety of industrial processes.
For example, oil-forming yeasts produce yeast oil from the algae sugars, which is a feedstock for sustainable plastics. Furthermore, enzymes can split the yeast oil into glycerin and free fatty acids. The free fatty acids are precursors for products like high-quality additives for lubricants, among others; the glycerin can be turned into carbon fibers.
In the further course of the project, the plastics will be combined with the carbon fibers to produce corresponding composite materials. According to Thomas Brück, professor for synthetic biotechnology at TU Munich, the carbon fibers produced from algae are absolutely identical to the fibers currently in use in the industry. Therefore, they can be used for all standard processes in aviation and automotive production.
Furthermore, carbon fibers and hard rock can be used in a process of the industrial partner TechnoCarbonTechnologies GbR, Munich, to produce novel construction materials. Not only do they have a negative CO2 balance, they are also lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel.
The photo shows a step of an e-scooter made from a composite material integrating granite and carbon fibers from algae.

Photo: A. Battenberg / TUM


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CHT Group breaks the €500 million sales mark in 2018

With a turnover of €513 million, the producer of specialty chemicals CHT Group, Tübingen/Germany,  achieved a 12% increase in sales in 2018.
The clear commitment to sustainability not only pays off in the form of awards and prizes, but also scores points in daily business life. With its sustainable core range and efficient and resource-saving process control, the group is a pioneer in the industry, particularly in the traditional textile chemicals sector.
Presently, the development focus is clearly on the circular economy. Together with industrial partners, the group has developed a biodegradable textile printing system which will soon be sold at the Lidl discount store. In the field of PET plastic recycling, concepts and products were developed that support the process from PET bottle to baby diaper.
In addition, the business development with textile dyes in 2018 made an unexpectedly strong contribution to sales, as the CHT Group was able to supply dye classes that were affected by a shortage of raw materials due a very good sourcing strategies.
The investment in silicone specialties in 2017, through the acquisition of the ICM Silicones Group, also paid off in 2018 in an extremely difficult market environment, even though the shortage of silicone raw materials on the world market led to extreme price increases while the demand remained high.
In terms of the result, the CHT Group was unable to meet expectations in 2018, in particular due to the raw material cost problems. For some raw material groups, massive cost increases of over 80% were recorded by mid-2018.
For 2019, because of political and economic risks, a rather moderate growth in sales is expected. Due to increasing trade conflicts, especially between the USA and China, the market development has not become easier.
The group is focusing on the strategic realignment of the Southeast Asia region which is now benefiting from the trade conflict.
In financial terms, the CHT Group has set itself the goal of continuing to grow profitably in 2019, and thus significantly increasing its result compared with the previous year.

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More information: CHT Group sales annual sales

ITMA: new record with biggest number of exhibitors

Since its launch in 1951, the ITMA has enjoyed wide industry recognition as the world’s largest textile and garment technology exhibition. This year’s event in Barcelona sees its reputation solidify further with the largest gathering of exhibitors in its history. The record number of exhibitors totaling 1,717 from 45 countries has set a new milestone.
The exhibits are showcased over 114,500 m² of net exhibit space, a 9% increase over the previous edition in 2015. The exhibition occupies all 9 halls of the Gran Via venue, including the space under the linkway. To allow more companies to participate, many exhibitors were allocated lesser stand space than they had originally applied for.
Reflecting the international composition of the participants, the largest number of exhibitors are from Italy (364 exhibitors), China (276 exhibitors), Germany (222 exhibitors), India (169 exhibitors) and Turkey (164 exhibitors).
CEMATEX countries continue to occupy the largest exhibit space, taking up 65% of the total net exhibit space. Italy booked 26% of the space, followed by Germany which booked 18%. The top non-CEMATEX countries are: Turkey with 9%, China with 8%, and India with 5% of the space booked.
A wide range of integrated solutions across the entire value chain in 19 exhibit sectors are present. Printing, which has seen many advances being made in the last few years, is an exciting growth sector. Chalking up a 38% increase in the number of exhibitors compared with the previous exhibition, it is one of the top 5 sectors at ITMA 2019: finishing (325 exhibitors), spinning (281 exhibitors), weaving (182 exhibitors), printing (157 exhibitors), knitting (136 exhibitors).
The nonwovens and technical textiles sectors, due to their wide range of applications, continue to be an important sector at the ITMA 2019. Garment making, which has been impacted by digitalization and fast fashion, is also making a bigger impact at the ITMA.

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ZDHC: Global Chemical Industry Round Table join ZDHC

After an intense dialogue and a series of meetings during the past year between the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) Board of Directors and the Global Chemical Industry Round Table initiative (GCIRT), an alignment was gained on ZDHC organizational commitments and a mutual understanding of the role of chemical suppliers within the ZDHC program. This opens the doors for broader, more active distribution of chemistry expertise and implementation support of textile dye and leather chemical manufacturing industry in the ZDHC program.
As a consequence of the alignment the GCIRT signatory companies will each be joining the ZDHC Foundation as contributors and uploading their products in the Chemical Module of the ZDHC Gateway via bluesign’s bluefinder tool.
The GCIRT members are: Archroma (Switzerland); CHT Germany GmbH (Germany); Colourtex Industries Pte Ltd (India); DyStar Singapore Pte Ltd (Singapore); Huntsman Textile Effects (Singapore); Kisco (Korea); Pulcra Chemicals Group (Germany); Rudolf GmbH (Germany); Tanatex Chemicals BV (Netherlands).

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