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16th May 2017, Frankfurt

Cellulose and basalt innovations at Techtextil

At last week’s Techtextil technical textiles show in Frankfurt, German research and development institute ITCF Denkendorf received an Innovation Award for its development of Purcell, a new composite material made of pure cellulose.

Cellulose is employed both as a high-strength reinforcing fibre and as a matrix component, resulting in a pure composite which can be simply and completely recycled using existing technologies.

The structure of the Purcell composite materials is technologically very easy to implement – the textiles are coated with the highly concentrated cellulose IL solution. © ITCF Denkendorf

Its development originated from ITCF’s work on the manufacture of cellulose fibres from ionic liquids. During this work, researchers were able to produce highly concentrated solutions of cellulose, which is not readily soluble, due to the addition of new ionic liquids. As a result of the highly variable setting options of the flow properties of these liquids, the idea of applying the spin masses as matrix components in composite materials arose. As reinforcing fibres, technical cellulose tyre cord fibres and natural fibres such as cotton, flax and hemp were used.

The structure of the Purcell composite materials is technologically very easy to implement – the textiles are coated with the highly concentrated cellulose IL solution. Depending on the desired final thickness, an appropriate number of layers can be applied and the pre-layers are then pressed and the IL rinsed out with water. Drying and consolidation of the composite takes place in a hot press and the IL is distilled out of the rinsing water for reuse. When pressing the pre-layers, the reinforcing fibres are superficially dissolved, bonding them inseparably to the cellulose matrix. This gives the material surprisingly good mechanical composite properties.

Peterseim Strickwaren received recognition for its development of the Seal system, based on basalt knitted fabrics. © Peterseim Strickwaren

Peterseim Strickwaren, based in Mühlhausen, Germany, meanwhile received recognition from Techtextil for its development of the Seal system, based on basalt knitted fabrics as reinforcements for maritime systems such as buoys, considerably reducing the maintenance costs associated with such products.

Basalt has excellent antibacterial, antimicrobial and high-strength properties for such applications, yet it proved a major challenge for the company to integrate Basalt yarns into the specially-configured knitted construction – which could prove extremely interesting as a composite reinforcement structure.

Strickwaren has broad know-how in advanced knitting techniques and can process a diverse range of difficult materials, including thermoplastic fibres.

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