Spinnova fiber is fluffy and as warm as lamb wool. Its stretch and strength qualities are very similar to those of cotton. Photo Forest.fi
Spinnova fiber is fluffy and as warm as lamb wool. Its stretch and strength qualities are very similar to those of cotton. Photo Forest.fi

05 February 2020


By Jussi Salmela 
In Jyväskylä, Central Finland, a new wave of textiles for the clothing industry are being boldly developed. The Finnish startup Spinnova is known to be the only company in the world that manufactures wood-based textile fibers completely free of chemicals.

There are big challenges facing the textile industry. Not only does it have to source sufficient volume of quality material, but it must do this with minimal environmental impact. Current fiber sources are problematic: the cultivation of cotton takes up a lot of arable land and needs huge amounts of water in its production process; oil-based fibers pollute the environment with, among other things, micro-plastics; and many chemicals are needed to produce synthetic fibres. Spinnova’s innovative solution is to produce textile fibers from wood-based materials mechanically. In its process, softwood pulp is transformed into a material like sheep’s wool without using a single chemical. “In practice, it would even be safe to eat the fiber we produce,” says Janne Poranen, CEO of Spinnova. According to the company, 99% less water utilized in its process than in the production of cotton fibers. Spinnova started production at its pilot plant a year ago and is showing such promising results that it has doubled its staff in a year and now employs 25 people full time. The pilot plant in Jyväskylä is currently producing textile fiber that is being trialed and tested in partnership with fabric and clothing manufacturers. These include the Finnish design house Marimekko and the Norwegian outdoor manufacturer Bergans. “Our goal for this year and next is to finalize the optimization of our first industrial concept,” says Poranen.
There is room in the market
The size of the world textile market, measured in terms of fiber, is over 100 million tons per year. Polyester and other oil-based fibers comprise over half of this quantity while cotton accounts for about a further quarter. Other fibers, including viscose and wool, have a much smaller share of the market. Initially, Spinnova’s fiber production would cover only a tiny fraction of the global textile market. Poranen estimates that the Spinnova plant could produce between 50 and 100 thousand tons of textile fibers each year.
Spinnova’s fiber is spun into yarn and fabrics are made from yarn. Arto Salminen handles ready-made fiber. Photo: Spinnova However, the significance of the product lies beyond any projected production capacity. The current fiber market is unable to grow in line with the demand created by global population growth. Therefore, the world needs new sources of textile materials and these need to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. “This is quite simply a winning concept: producing textile raw material while allowing arable land to be used for food production,” Poranen says. Spinnova is not the only company currently developing textile fiber from wood-based material. Stora Enso, for example, is transforming dissolved cellulose into fabrics using the Ioncell method. This fabric made headlines when the Finland’s First Lady Jenni Haukio celebrated independence in wood-fibre gown at the Independence Day Reception 2018.
In the Ioncell method, the chemicals burdening the textile industry are replaced by a safer, ionized liquid that dissolves wood cellulose. Spinnova, on the other hand, distinguishes itself by having a completely mechanical manufacturing process. According to its website, it is known to be the only manufacturer in the world to produce fiber completely chemical-free.

For more information contact Mr. Janne Poranen, CEO:
Palokärjentie 2-4 / FI-40320 JYVÄSKYLÄ, Finland / Tel. ++358 40 0138711 / E-mail: info@spinnova.fi 

Thanks to Mrs Anna Kauppi /Executive Editor, for the source by:
Salomonkatu 17-A / FI- 00100 HELSINKI, Finland / Tel. +358 400 702102 / E-mail: anna.kauppi@smy.fi