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Innovative valorization of European industrial hemp short fibers in high market value sustainable yarns for apparel (Hemp4Future)

The textile industry is not sustainable as massive amounts of non-renewable resources and water are consumed during the processing of the main raw materials polyester and cotton and a lot of waste that is often not being recycled is disposed off. In the context of increasing policy pressure and customers’ expectations, hemp fibers provide an excellent opportunity as a more sustainable and economically competitive alternative. Industrial hemp is a growing market worldwide, with many industrial applications. The full European market potential for hemp textiles has however not yet been tapped. This is mainly due to technological limitations in specific stages of the long and complex hemp value chain.Presently, the short hemp fibers (50 % of the total fiber volume) are processed into rather coarse yarns which are only suitable for technical applications with limited market value. Finer yarns are processed from blends that do not exceed 50% hemp. Hemp4Future will set up a process for the valorization of large volumes of short hemp fibers in high market value fine yarns for apparel. This will drive the further development of the hemp industry in Europe.Firstly, a fiber preparation treatment will be developed that ensures optimal fiber properties and efficient processability. Optimization of the subsequent textile processes will target yarns with suitable properties, consisting of 100% hemp or blends with other sustainable fibers. The TPoC will be realized on versatile pilot-scale equipment which will assure, at a later stage, quick adoption and upscaling to industrial equipment widely available in Europe, with minimal investment costs.Main stakeholders (i.e. fiber processors and spinning mills) will be engaged in the process development and technical, aesthetical and economical expectations of customers will be mapped and taken into account in the prototype design. The stakeholders’ willingness to change / pay for sustainable alternatives will be investigated. Various valorization paths will be considered, with an initial preference for patent licenses. The IP landscape will therefore be thoroughly examined.
Date:1 Sep 2021 →  Today
Keywords:industrial hemp, Cannabis sativa L., short fibers, textile processing, yarns