The Germany-based Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research, Weyerhaeuser Company in the U.S. and Germany’s Reifenhäuser Reicofil have patented a new technology to manufacture cellulosic self-bonded meltblown nonwovens using the lyocell process. The three companies are now operating a 60 cm-wide pilot line using a Reicofil meltblown nozzle at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) in Potsdam-Golm.
“This is the first pilot line of this size to be installed and operational,” said Dr. Hans-Peter Fink, acting director of the Fraunhofer Institute. Dr. Fink said the pilot line follows 10 years of research and development by Weyerhaeuser and Fraunhofer scientists.
Meltblown lyocell technology is based on patented processes and uses Weyerhaeuser’s patented Peach pulp, which is made in a modified kraft pulp process.
“This is an innovative technology that offers a natural fiber substitute for synthetic spunbonded and meltblown nonwovens,” said Mike Jackson, Weyerhaeuser senior vice president for Cellulose Fibers. “It is an exciting option for nonwoven manufacturers looking for innovative and sustainable solutions for the industrial and commercial markets in personal care products, health care products and specialty product lines.”
Currently, nonwoven manufacturers buy lyocell staple fibers and then convert them into nonwovens. The new process extrudes lyocell dope through a multi-hole Reicofil nozzle to form the nonwoven in one step, directly from lyocell dope. Fraunhofer and the two companies are now seeking to work with current fiber and nonwoven manufacturers to commercialize the new technology.