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(c) A3/Christian Strohmayr
10.05.2022

Fraunhofer reduces CO2 footprint and recycles trendy lightweight carbon material

Neo-ecology through innovative paper technology

To reduce the CO2 footprint, the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV Augsburg research with a state-of-the-art wetlaid nonwoven machine for recycling carbon fibers. The production processes are similar to those of a paper manufacturing machine. The crucial difference: we turn not paper fibers into the paper but recycled carbon fibers into nonwoven roll fabrics. The carbon fiber thus gets a second life and finds an environmentally friendly way in nonwovens, such as door panels, engine bonnets, roof structures, underbody protection (automotive), and heat shields (helicopter tail boom), as well as in aircraft interiors.

“Wetlaid technology for processing technical fibers is currently experiencing a revolution following centuries of papermaking tradition.”
Michael Sauer, Researcher at Fraunhofer IGCV

Neo-ecology through innovative paper technology

To reduce the CO2 footprint, the Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV Augsburg research with a state-of-the-art wetlaid nonwoven machine for recycling carbon fibers. The production processes are similar to those of a paper manufacturing machine. The crucial difference: we turn not paper fibers into the paper but recycled carbon fibers into nonwoven roll fabrics. The carbon fiber thus gets a second life and finds an environmentally friendly way in nonwovens, such as door panels, engine bonnets, roof structures, underbody protection (automotive), and heat shields (helicopter tail boom), as well as in aircraft interiors.

“Wetlaid technology for processing technical fibers is currently experiencing a revolution following centuries of papermaking tradition.”
Michael Sauer, Researcher at Fraunhofer IGCV

The wetlaid technology used is one of the oldest nonwoven forming processes (around 140 BC - 100 AD). As an essential industry sector with diverse fields of application, wetlaid nonwovens are no longer only found in the classic paper. Instead, the application areas extend, for example, from adhesive carrier films, and packaging material, to banknotes and their process-integrated watermarks and security features. In the future, particularly sustainable technology fields will be added around battery components, fuel cell elements, filtration layers, and even function-integrated material solutions, e.g., EMI shielding function.

Fraunhofer IGCV wetlaid nonwovens line is specifically designed as a pilot line. In principle, very different fiber materials such as natural, regenerated, and synthetic fibers can be processed, mainly recycled and technical fibers. The system offers the highest possible flexibility regarding material variants and process parameters. In addition, sufficiently high productivity is ensured to allow subsequent scaled processing trials (e.g., demonstrator production).

The main operating range of the wetlaid line relates to the following parameters:

  • Processing speed: up to 30 m/min
  • Role width: 610 mm
  • Grammage: approx. 20–300 gsm
  • Overall machinery is ≥ IP65 standard for processing, e.g., conductive fiber materials
  • Machine design based on an angled wire configuration with high dewatering capacity, e.g., for processing highly diluted fiber suspensions or for material variants with high water retention capacity.
  • Machine modular system design with maximum flexibility for a quick change of material variants or a quick change of process parameters. The setup allows short-term hardware adaptations as well as project-specific modifications.

Research focus: carbon recycling at the end of the life cycle
The research focus of Fraunhofer IGCV is primarily in the field of technical staple fibers. The processing of recycled carbon fibers is a particular focus. Current research topics in this context include, for example, the research, optimization, and further development of binder systems, different fiber lengths and fiber length distributions, nonwoven homogeneity, and fiber orientation. In addition, the focus is on the integration of digital as well as AI-supported methods within the framework of online process monitoring. Further research topics, such as the production of gas diffusion layers for fuel cell components, the further development of battery elements, and filtration applications, are currently being developed.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Casting, Composite and Processing Technology IGCV

Photo: pixabay
03.05.2022

The Journey to Carbon Neutrality: Reduction technologies and measuring tools

More and more sports and fashion brands are setting themselves the goal of becoming climate neutral within the next few years, on a corporate as well as product level. The CO2 balance serves as the gateway to sustainable apparel and for more transparency for the consumer.

This process begins with the materials supplied by textile producers, requiring knowledge of the amount of CO2 emitted during production. By evaluating and quantifying CO2 emissions, the industry gains in transparency and can turn to more sustainable options.

More and more sports and fashion brands are setting themselves the goal of becoming climate neutral within the next few years, on a corporate as well as product level. The CO2 balance serves as the gateway to sustainable apparel and for more transparency for the consumer.

This process begins with the materials supplied by textile producers, requiring knowledge of the amount of CO2 emitted during production. By evaluating and quantifying CO2 emissions, the industry gains in transparency and can turn to more sustainable options.

In close collaboration with sustainability insights platform Higg and partners such as Climate Partner, PERFORMANCE DAYS Munich and Functional Fabric Fair by PERFORMANCE DAYS Portland seek targeted answers to the question, “How can we cut down on CO2 emissions?” as part of its roadmap over the next three fairs. The Focus Topic “The Journey to Carbon Neutrality” will therefore highlight materials and fibers that provide solutions on how to produce and reprocess materials in the future in a climate-friendly manner, kicking off at the spring trade fair, to be held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland on April 4-5, 2022, at the Munich’s Exhibition Center on April 27-28, 2022, continuing through the winter fair in October/November and culminating at the Spring 2023 fair.

When the conversation turns to environmental protection and climate change these days, the term CO2 neutrality is also often mentioned in connection with CO2 emissions and CO2 reduction. Yet what exactly does CO2 neutrality mean? Climate neutrality implies achieving a balance between carbon emissions themselves and the absorption of carbon in the atmosphere into carbon sinks. To achieve net zero emissions, all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide must be offset by carbon sequestration. The fashion and sportswear industries are among the world’s highest emitters of CO2.

If one wishes to examine their emissions across all stages of the value chain, it is worth looking beyond raw materials, production, logistics and trade. Consumer behavior can also influence emissions: According to the “Fashion on Climate” report published by the Global Fashion Agenda and McKinsey at the end of August 2020, even greater leverage lies in the products themselves: 61 percent of reductions in emissions could be achieved through CO2 reductions in material production and processing, by minimizing production and manufacturing waste, and in the manufacturing of garments. By 2030, that would account for around 1 billion tons annually. And last but not least, consumer behavior is also a factor that impacts the fashion industry’s climate footprint. If even more attention is paid to sustainable clothing, and if it is reused and worn longer, this can lead to a reduction in emissions of up to 347 million tons, according to the report.

A pioneering example on the road to sustainability was PERFORMANCE DAYS’ decision to only present sustainable materials at the PERFORMANCE FORUM from the trade fair event in November 2019 onwards. And from the upcoming Spring Fair onwards, the sustainable approach will be heightened further. Within the framework of this roadmap, the new Focus Topic is intended to accompany exhibitors on their way to climate neutrality over the course of three fairs. In doing so, PERFORMANCE DAYS and Functional Fabric Fair are pursuing a 3-step plan.  

  • Step 1, April 2022: The focus of the upcoming fair will be on CO2-reducing technologies and the measuring of a product’s carbon footprint.
  • Step 2, November 2022: Within the entire Focus Topic product category, only products that indicate CO2 emissions caused during production will be shown. This contributes to more transparency and comparability in the industry.
  • Step 3, April 2023: The PERFORMANCE FORUM will present the amount of CO2 emitted by each individual product. Furthermore, approaches to solutions will be shown as to how CO2 released during the manufacturing of materials can be offset and further reduced.

For the best possible implementation and presentation of the new Focus Topic, PERFORMANCE DAYS and Functional Fabric Fair trust in collaborators: Higg and Climate Partner – amongst others – will accompany the next three fairs. The Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI) is considered the leading tool for assessing the environmental impact of materials in the apparel, footwear and textile industries. The Higg MSI is able to calculate the environmental impact of millions of possible material manufacturing variants. A packaging library has also been added to assist in making sustainable decisions for packaging. The Higg Index is neither a certificate nor a label, but rather an important self-assessment tool that textile companies can utilize internally to be able to identify and improve environmental and social issues throughout their value chain.

Climate Partner, on the other hand, seeks solutions for climate protection: This involves the balancing of CO2 emissions – which in turn are to offset the emissions of companies with recognized climate protection projects in order to make products, services and companies climate neutral. Climate Partner also sees itself as an advisor to companies on their climate protection strategies. Together, the aim is to work on reducing CO2 emissions and to support climate protection projects that benefit the everyday lives of people in developing countries. 

Source:

PERFORMANCE DAYS

Foto: Lalit Kumar, Unsplash
29.03.2022

The man-made fibers industry at the turning point of time

"You don't tear down a house before the new one is ready for occupancy."

Textination talked to the Managing Director of the Industrievereinigung Chemiefaser e.V., Dr. Wilhelm Rauch, about his assessment of the turning point that the man-made fibers industry is currently facing. What are the risks and threats, and what needs to change in order to remain a competitive player on the global market.

"You don't tear down a house before the new one is ready for occupancy."

Textination talked to the Managing Director of the Industrievereinigung Chemiefaser e.V., Dr. Wilhelm Rauch, about his assessment of the turning point that the man-made fibers industry is currently facing. What are the risks and threats, and what needs to change in order to remain a competitive player on the global market.

US President Joe Biden has called his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin a war criminal in connection with the invasion of Ukraine. The United Nations' highest court, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, has ordered Russia to immediately end its war against Ukraine. How do you personally assess Russia's behavior?
Dr. Rauch:
With family roots in the Rhineland, Central and East Germany, I grew up at a time when, as a result of the division of Europe, families were separated and people were ruthlessly shot in the middle of Germany who wanted to cross the inner-German demarcation line towards the West. Since 1989, the fall of the Iron Curtain has led us into a period that lasted more than 30 years and allowed us, at least in Europe, to experience an era of peaceful coexistence between the great power blocs, intensive trade relations and prosperous states.

It is more than shocking to see today how Russia is trying to turn back the wheel of history in Europe with a brutality that the youngest generation growing up in Europe has fortunately not had to experience so far, and it brings back the worst memories of the Cold War, which everyone hoped would never return. If today in Ukraine even facilities for the peaceful use of nuclear energy are fired upon, a dimension has been reached that one does not want to extrapolate any further. In addition to the unspeakable human suffering caused, which we can only begin to alleviate by accepting Ukrainian refugees, in the long term all trust in political promises is being gambled away, which, however, is essential both for peaceful coexistence and for economic cooperation. We are facing a reordering of the world in which supply relationships and dependencies with or on autocratic states must be evaluated much more sensitively for each individual case.

The economic consequences of the Russia-Ukraine conflict are becoming increasingly clear. The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) is correcting its forecast for 2022, but does not yet see a recession. What are your expectations for the industry in the current fiscal year?
Dr. Rauch:
The man-made fibers industry has been severely affected by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in the last two years. Planned investments were first postponed and then finally abandoned. By the end of 2022, three man-made fibers producers will close their doors in Germany compared to 2019. The industry started the current year on a very hopeful note, although previous issues such as REACH and, above all, energy costs were already increasing in severity before the Russia-Ukraine war. The economic consequences of the war will have a negative impact both directly in the form of increased energy prices and indirectly through changes in international competitive conditions.

What do the war in Ukraine and the economic sanctions against Russia entail for the upstream supply chains of the manmade fiber industry?
Dr. Rauch:
The immediate upstream supply chains will not be affected much by this war at first. However, we must expect supply chains in other industries to be disrupted. If, for example, certain raw materials or products are no longer available, this can have a noticeable impact, starting with logistics (mobility) and extending to components in production technology facilities. An example of this is the availability of cable harnesses, which were previously produced in Ukraine and are indispensable in many electronic components for man-made fibers production.

What is the relevance of Ukraine and Russia as sales markets for IVC member companies?
Dr. Rauch:
If we take the last year before the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic as the reference year, exports to Ukraine and the Russian Federation account for around 1.6% of total exports of man-made fibers from Germany. On average, a loss of sales to these countries can be tolerated, although it should not be forgotten that in individual cases - depending on a company's product portfolio - the impact can be quite significant. Looking beyond the horizon, it is not only the direct exports of man-made fibers to the war region that are of significance, but also deliveries of products in which man-made fibers are processed. Here, there are now interrupted supply relationships that result in order losses for the man-made fibers industry.

Certain industries are particularly affected by the consequences - what does this mean for the man-made fibers sector as a supplier industry?
Dr. Rauch:
Wherever production is cut back along the downstream value chain in which man-made fibers were used, the effects will be noticeable with a temporal delay. This applies, for example, to deliveries to the automotive sector, where the production of new vehicles comes to a standstill due to a lack of components originating from Ukraine.

How are exploding energy prices and the gas embargo affecting man-made fibers producers in the DACH region?
Dr. Rauch:
Even before the Russia-Ukraine war, European energy costs were already at a level that hit our members hard. For example, European gas costs currently rose by ten times from approx. 12 EUR/MWh to approx. 120 EUR/MWh as a result of the war, while in the USA they "only" rose by two and a half times from approx. 8 EUR/MWh to approx. 18 EUR/MWh. The situation is similar for electricity prices in Germany in particular, which have also risen by a factor of 10 from an already high level. Further price increases in Europe cannot be ruled out, but are more likely. Against this background, moderate adjustments in man-made fibers prices are only a drop in the bucket. A market development with virtually exploding energy costs cannot be reliably depicted by any company, nor can it be priced in such a way as to cover costs.

As the industry association of the man-made fibers industry, what do you think of "Freeze for Peace" or a stop to all Russian gas and raw material imports?
Dr. Rauch:
In Germany in particular, we have deliberately made ourselves dependent on Russian gas, contrary to all international warnings, by defining it as necessary for the bridge technology of electricity generation that we will need after the shutdown of coal- and nuclear-based power plants, before the availability of a sufficient amount of so-called "green" energy is assured. Gas is also needed for heating purposes and as a raw material, so it takes on the function of an all-rounder.

A boycott-related import stop would not only have serious negative consequences for the man-made fibers sector, but for the entire German industry and the majority of private households. As I mentioned at the beginning, it is the order of the day to help alleviate human suffering by taking in Ukrainian refugees. But this is not the end of the crisis. It must be assumed that the war situation will not be resolved in the near future. However, in order to cope with a protracted crisis situation, our economic strength must be maintained in order to be able to cope with the challenges ahead. An import freeze would be counterproductive in this respect. Since, due to the latest developments, gas deliveries are now to be paid for in rubles, there is rather a risk that Russia, for its part, will stop gas deliveries. In their effect, the two scenarios do not differ. The only thing that is certain is the fact that the availability of Russian gas to Europe is no longer guaranteed. Ultimately, the Russian demand to switch payments to rubles, which is not only aimed at revaluing the ruble, makes it clear that Russia is not dependent on Europe as a buyer of its gas. This would mean that a "freeze for peace" would lead to nothing. In the Far East, there is already a potential buyer of Russian gas to obtain it cheaply and safely, and which is also a major competitor of the European chemical fiber industry: China.

Are agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar a good substitute solution for gas and oil supplies from Russia?
Dr. Rauch:
It is not a question of evaluating a measure in the sense of good or bad, but of whether it appears suitable in this particular situation to reduce unilateral dependencies on an aggressor before sustainable solutions are available in sufficient quantity. In this respect, there should initially be no ideological barriers in the measures to be examined for feasibility. The agreements concluded with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar after certainly careful political scrutiny are individual decisions and represent only one piece in the mosaic among many.

Does the saying "First we had bad luck, then we were not lucky at all" apply to the current economic performance of the industry - or: how do you assess the influence of the Corona pandemic and the war situation in this respect?
Dr. Rauch:
Both the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war are events with a global character. While the first event affected all countries equally sooner or later, the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war must be assessed in a more differentiated manner. The consequences of the war primarily affect companies in Europe, and there in particular those countries which - as mentioned above - have placed themselves in unilateral dependencies like Germany. This does not apply to the man-made fibers industry in particular. Although there are many fellow sufferers in other industries, this does not improve the situation, of course.

What does the industry expect from the political leaders in Berlin and Brussels in the future?
Dr. Rauch:
The wish list can be fixed to a few core elements:
In the long term, we need a supply of energy and raw materials that is not based on the dependence of a few autocratic states. On the way there, against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war, previous exit scenarios from coal and nuclear energy must be reconsidered without prejudice with regard to their timeline. Or to put it more concisely: You don't tear down a house before the new one is ready for occupancy.

But energies from renewable raw materials must also be offered at prices that allow global competitiveness. According to a study by DECHEMA and FutureCamp, the chemical industry has calculated a price of 4 ct/kWh (including all taxes and fees). We are miles away from this today.

The revision of REACH must not lead to further bureaucracy and requirements that tie up capacity in companies. What we need in Europe is not dotting the i on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but to ensure that we do not slide down the levels step by step and that the i dot floats in the air without an "i".

European economic policy must focus on the international competitiveness of European industry. It is not sufficient to consider and regulate the European Union only from the point of view of the internal market. The planned carbon border mechanism is such an example. It is intended to impose customs duties on imports that carry a high CO2 burden. This may protect the domestic market, but it does nothing at all to help export-oriented European industry such as the man-made fibers sector on the international world market, because European production costs remain too high by global standards despite the carbon border taxes.

The European Commission must increasingly recognize the European industry and with it the man-made fibers industry as problem solvers. Man-made fibers are indispensable as products for the energy turnaround (rotor blades for wind turbines), lightweight construction in mobility (lightweight car bodies in composite systems), sustainable road construction (geotextiles to reinforce the road surface and increase its service life), reduction of steel-reinforced concrete and thus cement, sand and gravel (reinforcement with high-tensile man-made fibers) and medical products (medical masks, bandaging materials, stents).

In Europe, we again need more market economy and no small-scale regulations that are adapted again and again and proliferate into an impenetrable thicket.

With all the wishes to politicians mentioned above, let me finally mention the following with regard to the current situation: In 1961, after the Berlin Wall was built, Russian and American tanks faced each other at Checkpoint Charlie at a distance of less than 50 meters, ready to fire.

A year later, in October 1962, nuclear-equipped American and Russian naval units met head-on in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Both John F. Kennedy and Nikita S. Khrushchev - bitter rivals in the contest of political systems - were sensible enough at the time not to let the situation escalate.

At present, I wish our national, European and transatlantic politicians’ unconditional determination in the defense of our free democratic values, but I also appeal to all politicians worldwide to take to heart one of Albert Einstein's fundamental perceptions: "I don't know what weapons will be used in the Third World War. But I can tell you what they'll use in the Fourth - rocks!"

Source:

Textination

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

(c) nova-Institut GmbH
07.12.2021

Finalists for „Cellulose Fibre Innovation of the Year 2022” announced

Cellulose Fibre Innovation of the Year 2022: Cellulose Fibre Solutions are expanding from hygiene and textiles as well as non-wovens up to alternatives for carbon fibres for light-weight applications.

Great submissions made the nomination for the Innovation Award difficult. All of them present promising sustainable solutions in the field of cellulose fibres value chain. Six of them now get the chance to demonstrate their potential to a wide audience in Cologne (Germany), and online.

Cellulose Fibre Innovation of the Year 2022: Cellulose Fibre Solutions are expanding from hygiene and textiles as well as non-wovens up to alternatives for carbon fibres for light-weight applications.

Great submissions made the nomination for the Innovation Award difficult. All of them present promising sustainable solutions in the field of cellulose fibres value chain. Six of them now get the chance to demonstrate their potential to a wide audience in Cologne (Germany), and online.

For the second time, nova-Institute grants the “Cellulose Fibre Innovation of the Year” within the framework of the “International Conference on Cellulose Fibres 2022” (2-3 February 2022). The advisory board of the conference nominated six  products, ranging from cellulose made of orange- and wood pulp to a novel technology for cellulose fibre production. The presentations, election of the winner by the conference audience and the award ceremony will take place on the first day of the conference.

Cellulose fibres show an increasingly expanding wide range of applications, while at the same time markets are driven by technological developments and political framework conditions, especially bans and restrictions on plastics and increasing sustainability requirements. The conference provides rich information on opportunities for cellulose fibres through policy assessment, a session on sustainability, recycling and alternative feedstocks as well as latest development in pulp, cellulose fibres and yarns. This includes application such as non-wovens, packaging and composites.

Here are the nominees:
Carbon Fibres from Wood – German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf (Germany)
The HighPerCellCarbon® technology is a sustainable and alternative process for the production of carbon fibres made from wood. The technology starts with wet spinning of cellulosic fibres using ionic liquids (IL) as direct solvent in an environmentally friendly, closed loop filament spinning process (HighPerCell® technology). These filaments are directly converted into carbon fibres by a low-pressure stabilisation process, followed by a suitable carbonisation process. No exhaust fumes or toxic by-products are formed during the whole process. Furthermore, the approach allows a complete recycling of solvent and precursor fibres, creating a unique and environmentally friendly process. Carbon fibres are used in many lightweight applications and the fibres are a sustainable alternative to fossil-based ones.

Fibers365, Truly Carbon-Negative Virgin Fibres from Straw – Fibers365 (Germany)
Fibers365 are the first carbon-negative virgin straw fibres on the market. The Fibers365 concept is based on a unique, state of the art process to provide functional, carbon negative, and competitive non-wood biomass products such as virgin fibres for paper, packaging and textile purposes as well as high value process energy, biopolymer and fertilizer side streams. The products are extracted from the stems of annual food plants such as straw by a chemical-free, regional, farm level steam explosion pulping technology, allowing an easy separation of the fibres from sugars, lignin, organic acid and minerals. In the case of annual plants, CO2 emissions are recaptured within 12 months from their production date, offering “instant”, yearly compensation of corresponding emissions.

Iroony® Hemp and Flax Cellulose – RBX Créations (France)
Iroony® is a branded cellulose made by RBX Créations from hemp. This resistant hemp plant grows quickly within in a few months, massively captures carbon and displays a high content of cellulose. The biomass is directly collected from French farmers who cultivate without chemicals or irrigation, in extended rotation cycles, contributing to soil regeneration and biodiversity. For a diversified supply, the hemp can be combined with organically-grown flax. Through its patented process, RBX Créations extracts high-purity cellulose, perfectly suitable for spinning technologies such as HighPerCell® of DITF research centre. The resulting fibres display versatile properties of fineness, tenacity and stretch, for applications like clothing or technical textiles. Iroony® combines low impact, trackability and performance.

SPINNOVA, Sustainable Textile Fibre without Harmful Chemicals – Spinnova (Finland)
Spinnova’s innovative technology enables production of sustainable textile fibres in a mechanical process, without dissolving or any harmful chemicals. The process involves use of paper-grade pulp and mechanical refining to turn pulp into microfibrillated cellulose (MFC). The fibre suspension consisting of MFC is extruded to form textile fibre, without regeneration processes. The Spinnova process does not generate any side waste, and the environmental footprint of SPINNOVA® including 65 % less CO2 emissions and 99 % less water compared to cotton production. Spinnova’s solution is also scalable: Spinnova targets to reach 1 million tonnes annual production capacity in the next 10 to 12 years.    

Sustainable Menstruation Panties: Application-driven Fibre Functionalisation – Kelheim Fibres (Germany)
Kelheim’s plant-based and biodegradable fibres contribute significantly to a sustainable future in the field of reusable hygiene textiles. Through innovative functionalisation they are specifically adjusted to the requirements of the single layers and thereby reach a performance comparable to that of synthetic fibres. A unique duality in fibre technology is created: sustainably manufactured cellulosic fibres that allow for high wearing comfort and reusability with extraordinary, durable performance. Fibre concepts comprise Celliant® Viscose, an in-fibre infrared solution and Danufil® Fibres in the top sheet, Galaxy, a trilobal fibre for the ADL, Bramante, a hollow viscose fibre, in the absorbing core and a water repellent woven fabric, a biodegradable PLA film or a sustainable coating as a back sheet.

TENCEL™ branded Lyocell Fibre made of Orange and Wood Pulp – Orange Fiber (Italy)
Orange Fiber is the world's first company to produce a sustainable textile fibre from a patented process for the extraction of cellulose to be spun from citrus juice leftovers, which are more than 1 million tonnes a year just in Italy. The result of our partnership with Lenzing Group, leading global producer of wood-based specialty fibres, is the first ever TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibre made of orange and wood pulp. A novel cellulosic fibre to further inspire sustainability across the value chain and push the boundaries of innovation. This fibre, part of the TENCEL™ Limited Edition initiative, is characterized by soft appeal and high moisture absorbance and has already obtained the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 certificate and is undergoing a diverse set of other sustainability assessments.

(c) Checkpoint Systems
28.09.2021

Checkpoint Systems: Retail Technology Solutions – Success needs a Team

Checkpoint Systems, a division of CCL Industries, is a global leader in retail solutions. The portfolio ranges from electronic article surveillance as well as theft and loss prevention to RFID hardware and software and labeling solutions. The aim is to provide retailers with accurate, real-time inventory, speed up the replenishment cycle, prevent out-of-stocks and reduce theft to improve product availability and the customer shopping experience.

Checkpoint Systems, a division of CCL Industries, is a global leader in retail solutions. The portfolio ranges from electronic article surveillance as well as theft and loss prevention to RFID hardware and software and labeling solutions. The aim is to provide retailers with accurate, real-time inventory, speed up the replenishment cycle, prevent out-of-stocks and reduce theft to improve product availability and the customer shopping experience.

Textination spoke with Miguel Garcia Manso, Business Unit Director Germany at Checkpoint Systems, where the 44-year-old industrial engineering graduate has been working since 2018. With many years of international retail experience, he knows the needs of the retail industry very well. Before that, Miguel Garcia Manso lived in Madrid for almost 15 years, where he worked for the Spanish food retailer DIA. There he also accompanied the introduction and roll-out of article surveillance projects.

 

If you had to present Checkpoint Systems and its portfolio to someone who is not a retail professional – what would you say?

We are the retail partner and our job is to help retailers make shopping as pleasant as possible for their customers. Put simply, our solutions ensure that the right product is in the right place at the right time when the end consumer wants to buy it, instead of standing in front of an empty shelf in the worst-case scenario. Our portfolio ranges from individual anti-theft products to solutions that cover the entire supply chain and provide the greatest possible transparency of inventory.

 

It's been a long journey from the 1960s, when a small team in the U.S. developed a method to prevent the theft of books from public libraries, to becoming the international leader in 21st century article surveillance, operating in 35 countries. What legacy is still important to you today, and how would you describe the spirit at Checkpoint Systems?
 
Both questions have the same answer: On the one hand, innovative strength and, on the other, consistent exchange with the retail industry. Both have been in the focus at Checkpoint Systems from the very beginning. We develop our products and systems in close exchange with the industry, actively seek dialogue, listen to what is needed in everyday life, etc. This is very important to us and is also regularly used as a selling point for Checkpoint Systems. We definitely want to continue this.

 

You offer hardware and software technologies for retail, which is a very complex market. How do the requirements of retailers from the fashion, outdoor and textile industries differ from those of other industries?

The reasons why retail companies contact us are similar across all industries. They all want to delight their customers, retain them in the long term, and generate more sales. The ways to achieve this may differ: From omni-channel strategies for the fashion sector, to article surveillance solutions for high-priced electrical or cosmetic products, and to RFID-based fresh food solutions for food retailers to reduce food waste.
The requirements of the industries differ, especially when it comes to labels. Depending on the size and price of the product as well as the desired technology, we recommend different labels – or develop them in close coordination with the customer. For the Polish fashion company LPP, for example, we have just developed a special dual RF and RFID tag that blends harmoniously into the store design.

 

Magic word RFID – the contactless and automated reading and storing of data based on electromagnetic waves is the centerpiece of your technologies. You even encourage your customers to develop their own RFID strategy. What do you mean by this and are you sure that all retail companies will be able to do this on their own?

We develop the strategy together with our customers, usually as part of a pilot project. Until a few years ago, the introduction of RFID technology was actually more complex and usually involved a project lasting several years. Today, however, we can quickly calculate for each retailer in the context of a small pilot project, how much more profitable they can be with RFID and what their return on investment is. We usually start with a store scan, followed by pilot testing in selected stores, including individual training and on-site support. And by the time it is implemented in all stores, the customers themselves are RFID experts and have an understanding of what they can do with the real-time data. 

 

What does the keyword "customized" mean for Checkpoint Systems? To what extent can you map the individual needs of each customer? Or can you make every retail company – whether chain or boutique – "happy"?

We give high priority to personalized solutions. This concerns, on the one hand, the product itself and, on the other, the size of the company. As you already indicate, large retail chains obviously have different needs than small boutiques. For O₂, Telefónica Germany’s core brand, for example, we have just specially adapted our AutoPeg tags for theft protection. Instead of the standard yellow, the tags for O₂ are white with blue lettering to match the store design.
This also shows the development in the area of article surveillance in general: When article surveillance was still in its infancy, antennas and labels were mainly functional. Nowadays, they blend harmoniously into the overall look of the store design. Retailers no longer have to choose between design and functionality.

 

How is innovation management practiced in your company and which developments that Checkpoint has worked on recently are you particularly proud of?

In recent months, we have worked intensively – together with the German Employers' Liability Insurance Association (Berufsgenossenschaft Handel und Warenlogistik) – on the testing and certification of our article surveillance systems and now we can proudly say: We are the first manufacturer in Germany whose EAS systems have been tested by the CSA Group, an internationally recognized and accredited provider of testing and certification services. The CSA Group has confirmed that our radio frequency-based EAS systems comply with all standards and guidelines applicable in Germany with regard to exposure to electromagnetic fields. No safety distances need to be maintained.
The background is as follows: Retailers in Germany are obliged to prepare a risk assessment if they use an EAS system. The CE declaration of conformity, which they receive from the manufacturer when purchasing an EAS system, is not sufficient for this purpose. By testing our systems, we have created the best conditions for our customers to make such an assessment. We have also provided the relevant documents to the Employer's Liability Insurance Association.

We are also proud of the fact that we have managed to increase the clearance widths of our NEO antennas for article surveillance from two meters to 2.70 meters. This gives retailers significantly more freedom in store design. In general, store design is also a good keyword at this point: With our free-standing antennas, the design of the NS40 or even the possibility of incorporating antennas into checkout systems, we have contributed a great deal to making article surveillance aesthetically pleasing and harmoniously integrated into the whole.

 

The Covid-19 period was a disaster, especially for the stationary retail. In recent months, companies have increasingly moved in the direction of e-commerce – whether via individual store solutions or marketplaces – in order to compensate for at least part of the decline in sales. What is your advice to retailers: Can only omni-channel businesses be successful today and in the future?

Yes, that is definitely our advice to retailers. Omni-channel solutions are not going to disappear, but will continue to become more common and will be indispensable in the near future. Retailers are well advised to adapt to this new situation – also regardless of Corona – and to invest in the expansion of functioning omni-channel solutions. Customers expect the product they want, to be available when they enter a store. And if not, that they can easily have it delivered to the same store or shipped to their home. This only works with very high inventory transparency, for example through our RFID solutions.

 

Keyword: economic efficiency. Creating the much-vaunted personalized perfect shopping experience for the customer costs money, doesn't it? Stock availability, reducing inventories through clearance sales, shelf management, logistics and returns processing – to what extent can you support retailers in increasing their profitability?

NOT creating the perfect shopping experience costs a lot more – dissatisfied customers who haven't found what they want won't come back. To keep up with customer demand, many retailers therefore stock far too much products. In our experience, this amounts to an average of 42,000 items. That costs. These retailers pay high costs for warehouse space, need a lot of time for inventory processes, and end up having to reduce products significantly in order to reduce inventories.
The key to greater profitability lies in inventory accuracy. With the help of RFID technology, we can increase this to up to 99 percent. This allows us to avoid under- or overstocking, reduce the amount of storage space required, and optimize processes, including inventory. RFID can read hundreds of tags simultaneously and is more accurate and faster than manual counting. Experience shows that retailers can increase their sales by an average of three percent with our RFID technology.

 

Even if the situation in retail has eased to some extent as a result of the vaccinations, the shopping situation in on-site stores – viewed optimistically – also requires special precautions, at least for the next few months. With "safer shopping," you offer a package of various components for this purpose. What does it cover?
 
SmartOccupancy is our simple solution for controlling the number of people in salesrooms in real time. The system counts the number of people entering and leaving using Visiplus 3D, an overhead people counting sensor. When the maximum capacity is almost reached, SmartOccupancy sends an alert to the staff. This allows the staff to respond to current occupancy counts in real time, contributing to a safer environment for employees and customers. Those responsible can use SmartOccupancy to implement official instructions on the maximum number of people safely and reliably; manual counting is no longer necessary. A visual capacity indicator clearly shows customers at the door whether they are allowed to enter the store or not.
The second solution is primarily of interest to the textile and clothing industry as well as the footwear market: Inventory Quarantine is a software solution for secure, automated returns (SaaS-based). It allows retailers to park returned goods in an automated quarantine queue for a few hours. After the pre-defined time has passed, Inventory Quarantine notifies employees via push message that the piece of clothing or shoe can be cleared back to the floor or re-tagged as available in the online store. This means that items are only released when they are deemed safe for resale – while ensuring that items are put back on sale promptly. The solution helps retailers keep track of returned goods and minimize the time when products are not available on sale.

 

"Ethical consumption has finally become an attitude and has arrived in the middle of society," trend researcher Peter Wippermann commented on the results of the Otto Group's latest trend study "Living More Consciously". What does sustainability mean to Checkpoint Systems as a company, how do you reflect this finding in your product portfolio and how do you support your customers in achieving sustainability goals?

Sustainability is definitely an important topic for us at Checkpoint Systems. We regularly review our products and processes to see how we can work even more resource-efficiently, reduce production waste and lower our CO2 emissions. This also includes, how we can further reduce the power consumption of our antennas. We only develop and sell RF antennas. This technology is not only safer in terms of exposure to electromagnetic fields, but also more environmentally friendly: RF antennas require 40 to 70 percent less energy than other technologies.

Source:

The Interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, Managing Partner, Textination GmbH.

Photo: pixabay
11.05.2021

Turning Pineapple Leaves - a sustainable Alternative to Leather

  • Spanish entrepreneur Carmen Hijosa is nominated for European Patent Office (EPO) prize European Inventor Award 2021 for her sustainable alternative to leather
  • Development of a process for turning pineapple leaves into a soft, durable and versatile natural material
  • Environmentally-friendly alternative supports local farming communities and is sought after by major international fashion brands

The European Patent Office (EPO) announces that Spanish entrepreneur Carmen Hijosa has been nominated in the "SMEs" category of the European Inventor Award 2021 for developing a leather alternative made from pineapple leaf fibres. Her innovative textile uses a waste resource and can be produced with less impact on the environment compared with making cow leather.

  • Spanish entrepreneur Carmen Hijosa is nominated for European Patent Office (EPO) prize European Inventor Award 2021 for her sustainable alternative to leather
  • Development of a process for turning pineapple leaves into a soft, durable and versatile natural material
  • Environmentally-friendly alternative supports local farming communities and is sought after by major international fashion brands

The European Patent Office (EPO) announces that Spanish entrepreneur Carmen Hijosa has been nominated in the "SMEs" category of the European Inventor Award 2021 for developing a leather alternative made from pineapple leaf fibres. Her innovative textile uses a waste resource and can be produced with less impact on the environment compared with making cow leather. Hijosa has been commercialising her invention through her London-based SME since 2013, and today her natural leather alternative supports farming communities and cooperatives in the Philippines and is sought after by major international fashion brands.
 
The winners of the 2021 edition of the EPO's annual innovation prize will be announced at a ceremony starting at 19:00 CEST on 17 June which has this year been reimagined as a digital event for a global audience.

Inventing a natural textile from waste pineapple leaf fibre  
Conventional leather production is controversial, given the vast resources needed to raise cattle for slaughter, the risk of pollution posed by the chemical-heavy tanning process, and the often dire working conditions in tanneries. Hijosa experienced the reality of global leather production first-hand while working as a World Bank textile design consultant in the Philippines in 1993.

Moved by the negative environmental and social impacts of the local leather production process, she decided to develop a sustainable textile that was suitable for export and made better use of Filipino skills and raw materials. “Pineapple leaf fibres are very strong, fine and flexible, and have been used in the Philippines for 300 years in traditionally hand-woven textiles,” explains Hijosa. “I began to think: ‘What if I make a mesh with these pineapple leaf fibres, which is not unlike leather – a mesh of fibres?’.”
She set out to replicate leather’s mesh of collagen fibres, diving into a 12-year research and development process that involved completing several textile degrees, setting up a company and refinancing her house to keep researching and complete her PhD, before successfully creating the textile called Piñatex and perfecting its production. This involves stripping the cellulose fibres from leaves and first manufacturing textile grade fibres. These are then processed into a non-woven mesh textile, which is further enhanced and softened into a leather alternative.

The raw material that forms the base of Hijosa’s textile is a by-product of pineapple harvesting in the Philippines, offering an additional income to farmers and using an otherwise discarded resource. This waste source is significant with the world’s top ten pineapple producing countries creating enough leaves to potentially replace more than 50% of the world’s leather output with Hijosa’s material. Piñatex also requires much less water than textiles such as cotton, which consumes over 20 000 litres of water per kilogram. What is more, it is produced using fewer chemicals and less CO2 compared with leather production, further enhancing the sustainability credentials of Hijosa’s textile.

Innovation offering consumers more sustainable choices
In 2011, Hijosa filed a patent application for the textile and its production, before founding Ananas Anam as a start-up in 2013 to launch Piñatex commercially. For her, this part of the process was essential: “The IP was a pivotal part for securing funds, securing the product’s future and its market potential.” Today, she remains Chief Creative & Innovation Officer and is at the forefront of new developments in plant-based, waste-based textiles. Her pioneering work has positioned the company as a market leader at a time where consumers are starting to push for more sustainable choices.

Since 2013 the turnover of Hijosa’s company has roughly doubled every year through to 2019 and grown by 40% in 2020. It employs around 10 staff in its London site and works with factories in the Philippines and Spain, as well as the biggest Filipino pineapple-growing collective, which comprises 700 families who benefit from an additional income by supplying waste leaves. Piñatex is currently used by almost 3.000 brands in 80 countries. It can be found in a growing range of products – from trainers to jackets, car interiors, handbags and even in the world’s first all-vegan hotel suite.

A range of other plant-based alternatives to leather exist or are in development – based on anything from apple cores to mushrooms – highlighting the trend towards plant and waste-based textiles. The combined global leather (animal and synthetic) market was valued at EUR 374 billion in 2017, and although real leather is becoming scarce and therefore expensive, the overall market is predicted to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 5.40% until 2025. Although recent volcanic eruptions near their factories in the Philippines and pandemic-related restrictions have temporarily slowed production, Hijosa says the company’s outlook remains strong as consumers are starting to push for more sustainable choices.


Dr. Carmen Hijosa
… was born in Salas, Asturias, Spain, on 17 March 1952. After moving to Ireland at the age of 19, Hijosa co-founded the luxury leather manufacturing company Chesneau Leather Goods in 1977. There, she also served as director of design and sold to high-end clients such as Harrods. After running the company for 15 years, she began working as a textile consultant for the World Bank, as well as at research institutes in Germany and Ireland on EU-funded projects in the 1990s, bringing her textile design expertise to developing markets. In 1993, the World Bank asked her to consult on the Philippine leather industry. Seeing the industry’s negative environmental and social impact, she was driven to develop a sustainable alternative (a leather replacement derived from pineapple leaves). From 2009 to 2014, Hijosa completed a PhD in textiles at the Royal College of Art in London, further developing her prototype textile. In 2013, she founded the company Ananas Anam Ltd. to commercialise the leather alternative. Carmen Hijosa holds one European patent, EP2576881, granted in 2018.

About the European Inventor Award
The European Inventor Award is one of Europe's most prestigious innovation prizes. Launched by the EPO in 2006, it honours individual inventors and teams of inventors whose pioneering inventions provide answers to some of the biggest challenges of our times. The finalists and winners are selected by an independent jury consisting of international authorities from the fields of business, politics, science, academia and research who examine the proposals for their contribution towards technical progress, social development, economic prosperity and job creation in Europe. The Award is conferred in five categories (Industry, Research, SMEs, Non-EPO countries and Lifetime achievement). In addition, the public selects the winner of the Popular Prize from among the 15 finalists through online voting.

(c) Pixabay
15.12.2020

Protection against Corona: Materials research provides findings at institutes of the Zuse Community

As the year draws to a close, expectations are growing that protection against COVID-19 will soon be available. Until this is the case for large sections of the population, the successes achieved in research and industry to protect against the virus in 2020 offer a good starting point in the fight against corona and beyond. At institutes in the Zuse community, progress have been made not only in medical but also in materials research.

As the year draws to a close, expectations are growing that protection against COVID-19 will soon be available. Until this is the case for large sections of the population, the successes achieved in research and industry to protect against the virus in 2020 offer a good starting point in the fight against corona and beyond. At institutes in the Zuse community, progress have been made not only in medical but also in materials research.

These successes in materials research include innovations in the coating of surfaces. "In the wake of the pandemic, the demand for antiviral and antimicrobial surfaces has risen sharply, and we have successfully intensified our research in this area," explains Dr. Sebastian Spange, Head of Surface Technology at the Jena research institute INNOVENT. He expects to see an increasing number of products with antiviral surfaces in the future. "Our tests with model organisms show that an appropriate coating of surfaces works", emphasizes Spange. The spectrum of techniques used by INNOVENT includes flame treatment, plasma coating and the so-called Sol-Gel process, in which organic and inorganic substances can be combined in one layer at relatively low temperatures. According to Spange, materials for the coatings can be antibacterial metal compounds as well as natural substances with antiviral potential.

Nonwovens produced for mask manufacturers
In 2020, the textile expertise of numerous institutes in the Zuse community ensured that application-oriented research could prove its worth in the practical fight against pandemics. After the shortage of mask supplies in Germany at the beginning of the pandemic, textile research institutes reacted to the shortage by jumping into the breach. The Saxon Textile Research Institute (STFI), for example, converted its research facilities to the production of nonwovens to supply German and European manufacturers of particle filtering protective masks. "From March to November 2020, we supplied nonwovens to various manufacturers in order to provide the best possible support for mask production and thus help contain the pandemic. At a critical time for industry and the population, we were able to help relieve critical production capacity - an unaccustomed role for a research institute, but one we would assume again in similar situations," explains Andreas Berthel, Managing Commercial Director of STFI.

Development of reusable medical face masks
For the improvement of everyday as well as medical face masks the German Institutes for Textile and Fiber Research (DITF) are working on this project. In cooperation with an industrial partner, they are currently developing in Denkendorf, among other things, reusable medical face masks made of high-performance precision fabric using Jacquard weaving technology. The multiple use avoids waste and possible supply bottlenecks.

There are regulations for all types of masks, now also for everyday masks. At Hohenstein, compliance with standards for masks is checked. A new European guideline defines minimum requirements for the design, performance evaluation, labelling and packaging of everyday masks. "As a testing laboratory for medical products, we test the functionality of medical masks from microbiological-hygienic and physical aspects", explains Hohenstein's Managing Director Prof. Dr. Stefan Mecheels. In this way, Hohenstein supports manufacturers, among other things, with technical documentation to prove the effectiveness and safety. Respiratory protection masks (FFP 1, FFP 2 and FFP 3) have been tested at the Plastics Centre (SKZ) in Würzburg since the middle of this year. Among other things, inhalation and exhalation resistance and the passage of particles are tested. In addition, SKZ itself has entered into mask research. In cooperation with a medical technology specialist, SKZ is developing an innovative mask consisting of a cleanable and sterilizable mask carrier and replaceable filter elements.

ILK tests for mouth-nose protection
The fight against Corona is won by the contributions of humans: Of researchers in laboratories, of developers and manufacturers in the Industry as well as from the citizens on the street.
Against this background, the Institute for Air and Refrigeration Technology (ILK) in Dresden has carried out investigations into the permeability of the mouth and nose protection (MNS), namely on possible impairments when breathing through the mask as well as the protective function of everyday masks. Result: Although the materials used for the mouth-nose protection are able to retain about 95 percent of the exhaled droplets, "under practical aspects and consideration of leakages" it can be assumed that about 50 percent to 70 percent of the droplets enter the room, according to the ILK. If the mask is worn below the nose only, it can even be assumed that about 90 percent of the exhaled particles will enter the room due to the large proportion of nasal breathing. This illustrates the importance of tight-fitting and correctly worn mouth and nose protection. "On the other hand, from a physical point of view there are no reasons against wearing a mask", ILK managing director Prof. Dr. Uwe Franzke emphasizes. The researchers examined the CO2 content in the air we breathe as well as the higher effort required for breathing and based this on the criterion of overcoming the pressure loss. "The investigations on pressure loss showed a small, but practically irrelevant increase," explains Franzke.

The complete ILK report "Investigations on the effect of mouth and nose protection (MNS)" is available here.

Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG (c) Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG
06.10.2020

Nopma - Experts for antimicrobial finishing: Technical textile coatings from the Swabian Alb

The Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG - started in the early 1950s as a day- and nightwear manufacturer. Over the last 20 years the company has become a specialist in the field of technical textiles. With its brand nopma Technical Textiles the company is present as developer and producer of textile solutions via coatings. The main products are nopma anti-slip - textiles with anti-slip effect, nopma adhesion - adhesive pre-coated films, spacer fabrics and substrates for lamination in automotive interiors, nopma ceramics - abrasive more resistant textile surfaces and nopma silicones - silicone coatings on textile surfaces.

Textination talked to the managing director, Jens Meiser, who joined the company in 2005, realigned the division and developed it into a service provider, about his plans and objectives.

The Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG - started in the early 1950s as a day- and nightwear manufacturer. Over the last 20 years the company has become a specialist in the field of technical textiles. With its brand nopma Technical Textiles the company is present as developer and producer of textile solutions via coatings. The main products are nopma anti-slip - textiles with anti-slip effect, nopma adhesion - adhesive pre-coated films, spacer fabrics and substrates for lamination in automotive interiors, nopma ceramics - abrasive more resistant textile surfaces and nopma silicones - silicone coatings on textile surfaces.

Textination talked to the managing director, Jens Meiser, who joined the company in 2005, realigned the division and developed it into a service provider, about his plans and objectives.

Founded in 1952, Carl Meiser GmbH & Co.KG has changed from a day- and nightwear manufacturer to an innovator in the field of technical textiles, presenting themselves as a specialist for plastic-based coating processes. If you had to introduce yourself in 100 words to someone who does not know the company: What has influenced you most in this development process and what makes you unique?
Innovation is the new normal - This has been true for the textile industry not just since Sars CoV-2. Our industry was one of the first to be disrupted in the early 1990s and has always been subject to constant change. This urge for further development, which is essential for survival, has left its mark on us intensively and has enabled us to manage huge leaps in innovation in recent years

Today we regard ourselves as an innovative development and production service provider with a focus on textile coating. We develop and produce almost exclusively customized special solutions.

Through the combination of coatings on textiles these hybrid materials receive completely new properties.

You manufacture exclusively at your location in Germany. Why? Have you never been tempted to set up subsidiaries in other countries, for example to benefit from lower wage levels?
Today we supply global supply chains from our headquarter in southern Germany. Although we produce in a high-wage country, much more important for us are know-how and the drive of our team to create something new. Globalization will continue to be the key to success in the future. Therefore, subsidiaries in North America and Asia could be very interesting for us in the medium- and long-term perspective. However, this is still too early for us.

You use CIP and Kaizen techniques intensively in your company. How did a Japanese concept come about in the Swabian Alb?
KAIZEN, the change for the better, are actually German virtues. The urge to improve and optimize things is in all of us. Due to the continuous improvement process we do not stand still but evolve constantly. Besides, there is the personal affinity to Japan. A look at another culture simply opens the horizon. And if you additionally recognize parallels in the working methods, it’s even better. 

10 years ago, you turned your attention to new markets: aviation, automotive, protection, caravan and furniture manufacturing, to name just a few. Some of these segments have collapsed significantly during the Covid 19 pandemic. What market development do you expect in the medium term and what consequences will this have for your company?
Of course, the aviation or automotive industry, for example, have substantial problems during or due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Quite honestly, many of these problems existed before. They were further tightened, as if a fire accelerator has been used. Of course, these cut-backs are also hitting us hard economically. But we are pursuing long-term goals. As a medium-sized company, you have to have the resilience to continue on your path. Thanks to our specialisation and the split of our industrial sectors, which we drive forward every day, we manage to decouple ourselves more and more from economic developments in individual industries. For our customers this is a great advantage of relying on a very stable partner with long-term orientation.

We are positive about the future. Megatrends like sustainability, digitization and ongoing globalization will lead to new business models in the above-mentioned sectors, as in many others, and to renewed growth. Our coatings on textiles and flexible woven materials can contribute a wide range of solutions to this. If, for example, materials become lighter with identical usage properties or suddenly become biodegradable, because of biodegradable plastics, many new opportunities will arise.

Tailor-made instead of solutions for major customers: The topic of individualization down to batch size 1 is making up a large part of the discussion today. In 2015, you opened a large development laboratory where you have a wide range of testing technologies for textiles and plastics available. What do you think about individual product solutions, and in which application areas have you successfully implemented them?
In principle, we do not use any standards. We live individualization with the smallest possible batch sizes. In our field, we do not manage batch size 1, but we start with MOQs of 300 running meters at process-safe series production. We have very few finished products, and above all we have no collections. Our development laboratory is the key for this. Together with our customers we have the possibilities to realize very lean development processes.

Even on a laboratory scale, we can develop and test new products within just a few hours. We then strive to scale up to production at a very early stage in order to obtain production series results. This way, we offer our clients speed and power that represent a special potential for our partners.

You register important input factors in the production process and evaluate them in monthly environmental analyses. What are these factors in concrete terms and to what extent have their analyses already changed production operations? How do you define environmental management for your company?
For us, environmental management means a holistic approach. In principle, we operate production units and manufacture products that consume many resources. Due to the high production volumes, this continues to accumulate. Because of this, it is self-understanding that we record and evaluate our input and output flows and derive measures from them. This makes economic sense, but is also necessary because of our responsibility for our environment. Specifically, these are energy consumption values, consumption data of primary chemicals, electricity load peaks, our Co2 footprint, just to name a few. This consideration has changed us in many areas. Today we operate a power plant with gas condensing technology, our free roof areas are greened or carry photovoltaic modules, we offer our employees and visitors electric filling stations and finally we have converted the entire power supply of our factory to environmentally friendly hydroelectric power.

With nopma, you have been building up a brand for the technical textiles industry since several years and communicate this via an Individual website parallel to Carl Meiser GmbH & Co. KG. How did this brand name come about and what is the product portfolio behind it?
This is the name of a first technical textile product from the 1990s. It was a textile - coated with dots. Dots on a knitted fabric. NOPMA. My father created this brand.

In 2016 you invested in an additional production line for nopma products and were able to start a directly serial delivery in the NAFTA area. How do you currently assess the market opportunities for North America and Mexico?
We continue to see opportunities in globalization and thus on the North American market also. However, these markets are still severely affected by the pandemic and there are major distortions. When these return to normal, we surely will see more success on these markets again.

As an innovation leader, Meiser offers solvent-free PU adhesive systems as pre-coatings for lamination. How do you assess the importance of such innovations in the context of REACH?
These innovations offer our customers the opportunity to decouple themselves from the pressure REACH triggers in some industries. However, we also have some products that have been developed newly in recent months. This keeps us busy, but also creates opportunities to open up new market segments.

How have you felt about the corona era to date - as a company and personally? What would you on no account want to go through again and what might you even consider maintaining on a daily basis?
I think this time has also strengthened us as a society, as people and even as entrepreneurs. Each crisis you go through makes you a little more relaxed for the unforeseen, but also more motivated to achieve your goals. In my opinion, there have been a lot of positive things in the last few months. Suddenly, for example, digitalization tools have become accepted in our everyday lives, and I feel that people are paying more attention to others again. Hopefully this will stay this way.

The futuristic "tube" escalator at the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall is just as impressive as the building itself and the longest escalator in western Europe. In August, a start-up based in Cologne installed an UV technology that keeps the handrails clean at all times. At the same time, you presented an antiviral functional coating that can be applied to all textiles in the form of yard goods. How does this work and for what purposes will this technology be suitable?
We have already been working with antimicrobial finishing techniques for many years. This already started with the swine flu in 2009/2010, when we made initial contacts with a young start-up and launched a development. Due to a lack of market interest, however, this had to be discontinued after a few months. Today we are experts in the field of "antimicrobial equipment by means of coatings". We were also able to build up an enormous amount of knowledge on the subject of approval and biocide regulation. Today, we can support our customers holistically in these areas. The function by skin-compatible active substances from the cosmetics sector with a vesicle booster can kill viruses and bacteria within a few minutes.
Since the pandemic has shown us the enormous importance of a new level of hygiene, the applications are very diverse and differentiated. We have already realized the use in personal protective equipment, work furniture, vehicles and for example gloves. In principle, every application is predestined where textile carriers are exposed to many touches by different persons in high frequency. Here our nopma products offer a new level of protection and hygiene.

To break new ground means decisiveness, overcoming fears - and thus the courage to fail. Not every project can succeed. In retrospect - about which entrepreneurial decision are you particularly glad to have made it?
We fail again and again. This is part of the game. But it has never happened that we did not learn anything. The pandemic situation is another good example. In spring we accepted our corporate responsibility for our society and were one of two companies in Baden-Württemberg to achieve certification for FFP protective masks. Since we did not want to participate in the revolver market at that time, we offered these products only to the public sector at favourable pre-crisis prices. However, the decision makers could not make up their minds for weeks and did not order. This disappointed our whole team very much at that time. Today we have overcome this and have taken a lot of knowledge with us from this development.


The interview was conducted by Ines Chucholowius, CEO Textination GmbH

The Fraunhofer WKI double-rapier weaving machine with the Jacquard attachment in the upper of the photo.  © Fraunhofer WKI | Melina Ruhr. The Fraunhofer WKI double-rapier weaving machine with the Jacquard attachment in the upper of the photo.
02.06.2020

Fraunhofer WKI: Climate-friendly hybrid-fiber materials on the basis of renewable natural fibers

As a result of the new combination possibilities for bio-based hybrid-fiber materials achieved at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI, the industrial application possibilities for renewable raw materials, for example in the automotive industry or for everyday objects such as helmets or skis, can be expanded.

By increasing the proportion of flax fiber in hybrid-fiber materials to up to 50 percent, the scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to significantly increase the biogenic proportion in composite materials. The special aspect of the tested methods: The fabrics can be individually composed with the help of a weaving machine. In this way, process steps in industrial production, in which materials first have to be merged together, can be omitted. This will achieve reductions in energy and CO2 throughout the entire production process.

As a result of the new combination possibilities for bio-based hybrid-fiber materials achieved at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research, Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI, the industrial application possibilities for renewable raw materials, for example in the automotive industry or for everyday objects such as helmets or skis, can be expanded.

By increasing the proportion of flax fiber in hybrid-fiber materials to up to 50 percent, the scientists have demonstrated that it is possible to significantly increase the biogenic proportion in composite materials. The special aspect of the tested methods: The fabrics can be individually composed with the help of a weaving machine. In this way, process steps in industrial production, in which materials first have to be merged together, can be omitted. This will achieve reductions in energy and CO2 throughout the entire production process.

Successfully woven: Different hybrid fabrics
In view of the increased demands being placed upon environmental and climate protection, science and industry are seeking sustainable alternatives to conventional materials in all branches of production. As a material, natural fibers offer a sustainable solution. Due to their low density and simultaneous high stability, natural fibers can be used to produce highly resilient light-weight-construction materials which are easy to recycle. In the “ProBio” project, scientists from the Fraunhofer WKI have therefore addressed the question as to how the proportion of natural fibers in bio-based hybrid-fiber materials can be increased as significantly as possible. A double-rapier weaving machine with Jacquard attachment was thereby utilized in order to produce the bio-based hybrid-fiber materials.

The researchers thereby focused specifically on bio-based hybrid-fiber composites (Bio-HFC). Bio-HFC consist of a combination of cellulose-based fibers, such as flax fibers, and synthetic high-performance fibers, such as carbon or glass fibers, for reinforcement. Bio-HFC can be utilized in, for example, vehicle construction. As an innovation in the “ProBio” project, the researchers interwove differing fiber-material combinations, reinforcing fibers and matrix fibers with the aid of the double-rapier weaving machine. This procedure differs from the process in which finished fabrics are layered on top of one another.

“We have combined the advantageous properties of the fiber materials within a composite material in such a way that we have been able to compensate for weak points in individual components, thereby achieving new properties in some cases. In addition, we have succeeded in increasing the proportion of bio-based fibers to up to 50 percent flax fibers, which we have combined with 50 percent reinforcing fibers,” says project team member Jana Winkelmann, describing the procedure. The bio-hybrid textiles, each consisting of 50 percent by weight carbon and flax fabric, are introduced into a bio-based plastic matrix. The composite material possesses a flexural strength which is more than twice as high as that of the corresponding composite material made from flax-reinforced epoxy resin. This mechanical performance capability can significantly expand the application range of renewable raw materials for technical applications.

With the weaving machine, the scientists have successfully combined innovative light-weight-construction composite materials with complex application-specific fabric structures and integrated functions. Reinforcing fibers, such as carbon and natural fibers, as well as multilayer fabrics and three-dimensional structures, can be woven together in a single work step. This offers advantages for industrial production, as production steps in which materials first have to be merged together can be omitted. “We have succeeded, for example, in utilizing conductive yarns or wires as sensors or conductor paths directly in the weaving process, thereby producing fabrics with integrated functions. The introduction of synthetic fibers as weft threads enables the production of bio-hybrid composites with isotropic mechanical properties,” explains Ms. Winkelmann.

Weaving technology makes it possible to create new products with a high proportion of bio-based components on a pilot scale. The project results provide an insight into the diverse combination possibilities of natural and reinforcing fibers and demonstrate opportunities for utilization not only in vehicle construction but also for everyday objects such as helmets or skis. The results will be presented within the framework of the 4th International Conference on Natural Fibers, ICNF, July 2019 in Porto, Portugal. The “ProBio” project, which ran from 1st July 2014 to 30th June 2019, was funded by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture (MWK).

Background
Sustainability through the utilization of renewable raw materials has formed the focus at the Fraunhofer WKI for more than 70 years. The institute, with locations in Braunschweig, Hanover and Wolfsburg, specializes in process engineering, natural-fiber composites, wood and emission protection, quality assurance of wood products, material and product testing, recycling procedures and the utilization of organic building materials and wood in construction. Virtually all the procedures and materials resulting from the research activities are applied industrially.

Source:

Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research WKI

03.12.2019

INDUSTRY AND SCIENCE JOINTLY CALL FOR PROMOTION OF HYDROGEN TECHNOLOGIES

Climate protection is one of the major challenges of our time. It is becoming increasingly clear that a substantial transformation of industrial value chains and production processes is needed in order to meet the climate protection targets of the Paris Agreement. Carbon-neutral hydrogen will play a decisive role in this transformation: the discussion paper published jointly by industrial stakeholders and scientists shows the crucial relevance of hydrogen for the energy transition, outlines the challenges associated with the development of the necessary infrastructure and also addresses policymakers by providing clear recommendations for action.

IN4climate.NRW publishes its first discussion paper.

Climate protection is one of the major challenges of our time. It is becoming increasingly clear that a substantial transformation of industrial value chains and production processes is needed in order to meet the climate protection targets of the Paris Agreement. Carbon-neutral hydrogen will play a decisive role in this transformation: the discussion paper published jointly by industrial stakeholders and scientists shows the crucial relevance of hydrogen for the energy transition, outlines the challenges associated with the development of the necessary infrastructure and also addresses policymakers by providing clear recommendations for action.

IN4climate.NRW publishes its first discussion paper.

National and global energy and climate protection scenarios make it clear that carbon-neutral hydrogen will be key for energy transition in the future. Hydrogen is of vital importance for climate-neutral production in the chemical and steel industries. It can also replace fossil fuels both in industry and in the transport and mobility sectors. It is easy to transport and store, thus making a significant contribution towards sector coupling. In the future, therefore, a high demand for hydrogen is expected – according to current scenarios this could amount to more than 600 terawatt-hours per year.

“Due to its central location in Europe and the unique potential it offers in terms of industry and research, North Rhine-Westphalia is an ideal model region and starting point for developing a hydrogen economy in Germany and Europe,” explains Professor Manfred Fischedick, Vice President of the Wuppertal Institute and head of the working group on hydrogen at IN4climate.NRW. Eight industrial companies (AirLiquide, Amprion, BP, Covestro, Open Grid Europe, RWE, Shell and thyssenkrupp) and four research institutes (the Wuppertal Institute, Fraunhofer UMSICHT, BFI and IW Köln) together have developed the paper. The authors see hydrogen as the key to success in terms of industrial transformation and a climate-neutral future. At the same time, hydrogen offers great opportunities for economic growth in NRW and Germany – with an estimated potential added value running into billions and a high potential for future-proof jobs.

All the companies contributing to the discussion paper are already involved in projects which promote hydrogen technologies and thus set the course for a key role for hydrogen in the future. The projects focus, for instance, on carbon-neutral steel production, the production of hydrogen on an industrial scale using electrolysis, the development of the transport infrastructure by converting natural gas pipelines, the use of green hydrogen in refineries, and the promotion of sector coupling.

New hydrogen strategy
“We now need the necessary regulatory conditions and positive economic incentives to make climate-neutral hydrogen accessible to the whole of the industrial sector,” explains Klaus Kesseler, Head of Climate Protection, CO2, Approvals at thyssenkrupp Steel AG. “We welcome the fact that the federal government is stressing the importance of hydrogen in its 2030 climate protection programme and compiling a national hydrogen strategy; in our opinion, the creation of an efficient transport infrastructure is of paramount importance to this strategy. Climate-neutral hydrogen is currently not competitive – the hydrogen strategy must address this problem. What is more, we need additional capacity for electricity generated from renewable energy sources to produce hydrogen,” Kesseler goes on to explain.

The paper was written by the IN4climate.NRW working group on hydrogen. The participants of the platform develop new cross-sector ideas to promote industrial climate-friendly processes and products. The discussion paper on hydrogen is the first publication from IN4climate.NRW.

 

More information:
Wasserstoff
Source:

Fraunhofer-Institut für Umwelt-, Sicherheits- und Energietechnik UMSICHT

German Future Prize 2016 © Ansgar Pudenz / Dt. Zukunftspreis
13.12.2016

CARBON RESEARCHERS FROM DRESDEN WON THE GERMAN FUTURE AWARD

  • The award for technology and innovation was presented by federal president Joachim Gauck

The Dresden professors Manfred Curbach, Chokri Cherif and Peter Offermann are the winners of the German Future Prize 2016. The German Federal President Joachim Gauck presented the EUR 250,000 prize on November 30th in Berlin. The research team was one of the three finalists and was able to successfully compete against their competitors. "For the first time in the history of the award ceremony, a team from the sector of construction was awarded. This shows the importance of our research and our desire to bring about the urgently needed paradigm shift in the
construction sector to greater resource efficiency and sustainability," Manfred Curbach, Director of the Institute for Concrete Construction at the Dresden University of Technology and spokesman for the winning team, said.

  • The award for technology and innovation was presented by federal president Joachim Gauck

The Dresden professors Manfred Curbach, Chokri Cherif and Peter Offermann are the winners of the German Future Prize 2016. The German Federal President Joachim Gauck presented the EUR 250,000 prize on November 30th in Berlin. The research team was one of the three finalists and was able to successfully compete against their competitors. "For the first time in the history of the award ceremony, a team from the sector of construction was awarded. This shows the importance of our research and our desire to bring about the urgently needed paradigm shift in the
construction sector to greater resource efficiency and sustainability," Manfred Curbach, Director of the Institute for Concrete Construction at the Dresden University of Technology and spokesman for the winning team, said.

The German Future Prize of the Federal President is one of the most important science awards in Germany. The rector of the TU Dresden, Prof. Hans Mueller-Steinhagen, is especially pleased: "Congratulations! This is a great success for the three professors, for the TU Dresden and also for the scientific location Dresden. This is the second time after 2011, starting with the idea and the basic research up to the launch on the market, that scientists from our university are able to make the emergence of innovative innovations comprehensible, thus to convince the top-class jury of the German Future Prize."

The three researchers at the TU Dresden developed a new composite material, which instead of steel reinforcement is based on the use of carbon. Carbon is four times lighter and six times more load-bearing than steel. The potential of the innovative composite is immense. In contrast to reinforced concrete, carbon-concrete is more resistant and at the same time more stable, since it does not rust. Components and structures can be designed to be thinner and will save precious resources such as water and sand. The material also allows filigree shapes and a wide range of applications. When using carbon-concrete, more than 50% material savings are possible. This also is accompanied by a reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions. The development progress lies in the details too. Components made of carbon-concrete allow a combination with additional functions such as to dam, heating or monitoring of buildings.

Carbon-concrete can not only be used in the area of new buildings. The material is excellent also for reinforcing existing buildings. The lifetime of buildings, bridges and masts can significantly be increased by applying a thin layer of carbon-concrete. Since 2006 old and new buildings, such as a department store in Prague or even huge silos - such as the sugar silos in Uelzen, have been reinforced by these procedures. Thus, the building material carbon-concrete represents not only an innovation for the location Dresden but is becoming important more and more worldwide.

The importance of the carbon-concrete technology has also been recognized by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research which supports the in 2014 founded association C³ - Carbon-Concrete Composite e.V with up to EUR 43 million. The C³ e.V. is an interdisciplinary network of more than 150 partners from the fields of business, science and associations, which jointly promote the introduction of the material on the market.