Sustainability is about limiting the impact of the manufacturing process, but, writes Revolution Fibres’ Technical Director Iain Hosie, it’s also essential to create products that benefit society.
It took years of research and major technology advancements to enable Revolution Fibres to produce kilometre-long sheets of nanofibre on a daily basis and significantly reduce waste going to landfill.
Nanofibre – a class of textile made from superfine fibres 1/500th the width of a human hair – is created using a high voltage electrospinning process that is highly energy-efficient and produces minimal residue.
Globally, the onus is on companies to reduce waste and prioritise sustainability when developing or manufacturing products and constantly fine-tuning processes is essential to making this happen.
To further enhance the Revolution Fibres’ manufacturing process, we undertake extensive R&D to enable the use of environmentally safe solvents. Using the paint industry as a benchmark, customised chemistry helps remove harmful solvents from large-scale manufacturing which is key for reducing environmental impact and worker safety.
In the textiles sector, nanofibre offers distinct advantages because the volume used to create materials is a fraction of what is needed using traditional textiles. One kilogram of polymer can create a nanofibre that would reach to the sun!
As a manufacturer, using sustainably sourced and bio-derived materials is also important – and often the first step – on the path to becoming a more sustainable business. For example, to produce our science-first, all-natural skin care product ActivLayr we source premium New Zealand marine collagen.
But there is more to sustainability than being clean, green, and doing your bit for climate change.
A key sustainability focus for Revolution Fibres is to create a range of nanofibre products that make a difference in society – while also working to limit its impact on the planet.
The unique technology behind a product such as ActivLayr, which uses collagen to deliver 100% natural actives deep into the skin. This is in stark contrast to the excessive amount of chemicals found in traditional creams and serums.
There is also strong potential beyond the skincare industry. With the ability for different ingredients to be added to the ActivLayr formula it could one day enable a controlled drug dose to be delivered to a patient for more effective and efficient treatment.
The beauty of nanofibre – which can create vast changes in strength, reactivity, and absorbency – is that it can be used to enhance a wide variety of products. From skincare and the highest quality filtration media that exceeds N95 standards, through to strengthening Formula One car.
Not only does nanofibre filtration in face masks provide better protection than traditional melt blown filters, but it can also be used for up to 200 hours compared to the recommended 72 hours of common N95 masks which significantly reduces the number of masks going to landfill.
Nanofibre also helps make products stronger – and last longer. Xantu.Layr™, a specialist composite strengthening nanofibre, improves the durability and lifetime of a product and is currently used in products such as space rockets, cars and fishing rods.
Furniture manufacturer PLN Group uses Phonix™ nanofibre, one of the world’s thinnest acoustic veils, in its products to enhance sound-absorbing properties. The aim is to create functional and harmonious work and learning spaces to improve productivity and wellbeing.
It is these sorts of products and applications that truly benefit society and take the concept of sustainability full circle.
There is no finish line when it comes to sustainability.
Like most businesses we are constantly assessing how we can reduce our impact further, be it using more environmentally friendly materials or innovating to develop products that can help make a positive change.