FINLAND (News release) -- The Kuura textile fibre is produced in Äänekoski, Finland, at Metsä Spring and Itochu's jointly-owned demo plant. The joint demo phase project, which is built around the Äänekoski demo plant, aims to demonstrate the feasibility of a novel production process and textile fibre product, from both a technical and economic standpoint. This advanced direct dissolution method saw its beginnings in a collaboration with universities and research institutions over a decade ago. The demo phase began in late 2020 and it is estimated to last approximately two years.
"We are testing a novel way of producing textile fibres from undried pulp, based on safer and more environmentally friendly chemicals. Our project has now reached a point where we can shift our focus more on investigating the fibre's market potential and its suitability in different applications. Our partner ITOCHU, which has operated in the textile industry for over 100 years already, plays a key role in this. The launch of the Kuura brand supports ITOCHU work at the customer front," says Niklas von Weymarn, CEO of Metsä Spring.
"The importance and presence of sustainable materials, especially cellulosic fibres, are currently increasing in the global textile market. We are very honoured to announce this new cellulosic fibre - Kuura - together with Metsä Group. ITOCHU is looking forward to distributing the Kuura fibre to the global textile market, as one of the core materials of ITOCHU's sustainable materials", states ITOCHU Textile Company, Raw Material section.
More than 100 million tonnes of textile fibres are produced worldwide every year, and there is massive global demand for sustainably produced textile fibres. Alternatives to oil-based textile materials and cotton fibres are needed to place less burden on the environment.
It is essential in terms of both minimising the environmental footprint and overall efficiency that Kuura is manufactured next to a bioproduct mill. The existing industrial mill site ensures the availability of the raw material and fully fossil free energy. It also enables the wise use of water and other resources.
"The idea of Metsä Group's bioproduct mills is the full utilisation of the renewable wood raw material and production side streams as pulp and other bioproducts, which can replace materials made from fossil-based raw materials. Kuura is an excellent example of a value-added product converted from pulp that can be produced within our bioproduct mill concept," says von Weymarn.
If the feasibility of the production process and the interest in Kuura on the markets can be proved, Metsä Group will consider investing in a larger textile fibre mill located next to its bioproduct mill.