Techtextil Innovation Award Winners Announced


Awards ceremony to take place today at 12.30 p.m. in the Texprocess Forum in Hall 9.0

The Techtextil Innovation Award winners were announced last week. The awards ceremony will take place today at 12.30 p.m. in the Texprocess Forum in Hall 9.0. The award-winning exhibits can be seen in Hall 9.1 up to and including April 26, 2024. 

Techtextil Innovation Award Winners

Improving aircraft recycling
Lighter than many metals and flexible in design: fiber composites have become an integral part of modern aviation and aerospace. The textile-reinforced lightweight materials, usually a mixture of glass or carbon fibers and synthetic resin, reduce the weight of aircraft – and thus fuel consumption – to such an extent that some modern aircraft now consist of more than 50% of them. This raises the increasingly urgent question of how to recycle these composite materials. The Belgian textile research institute Centexbel receives the Techtextil Innovation Award in the ‘New Approaches on Sustainability & Circular Economy’ category for a new process designed to improve the recycling of aircraft parts made from thermoplastic fiber composites in the future. The award-winning process, the development of which according to Centexbel was closely followed-up by Airbus, utilizes induction heat. It can be used to heat welded thermoplastic, textile-reinforced composite materials and then separate them from each other. Stringers, parts of wings and other textile-based aircraft parts should be easier to separate and reuse in future. "The Techtextil Innovation Award motivates us to continue working on projects to improve sustainability in various industries such as the aerospace industry," says Myriam Vanneste, R&D manager Textile Functionalisation & Surface Modification at Centexbel-VKC.
Smart roof
The Techtextil Innovation Award in the ‘New Product’ category goes to the Portuguese Technological Center for the Textile and Clothing Sector, CITEVE, for an intelligent, textile-reinforced waterproofing system for flat roofs. The "Smart Roofs System" (SRS) consists of a thermally reflective, water-based liquid sealing membrane and an intelligent textile reinforcement structure made from a jacquard fabric of recycled polyester. This contains electronic yarns which react to heat, temperature and moisture. According to CITEVE, the innovative system offers better technical performance and is more sustainable than previous solutions for liquid membranes. “Being honored with an Innovation Award from Techtextil, the leading international trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens shows, that our innovation is among the best in the world at a top level. It is a great recognition for CITEVE, the other SRS partners and Portugal,” says Augusta Silva, innovation manager of Textile Printing and Coating at CITEVE.
Self-cooling textiles to combat the effects of climate change
A new type of coating for self-cooling textiles developed by the German Institutes of Textile and Fiber Research Denkendorf (DITF) has received a Techtextil Innovation Award in the ‘New Technology’ category. Unlike sunshades or awnings, which only block the sun's rays indirectly, the coating enables textiles to actively cool themselves. To this end, it not only reflects sunlight, but also re-emits heat energy. “Our tests show that this allows textiles to be cooled to below the ambient temperature,” says Cigdem Kaya, team lead Barrier Textiles at the DITF's Competence Center Textile Chemistry, Environment & Energy. Kaya explains that the development of the coating is also taking place against the background of rising temperatures caused by climate change. According to Kaya, the demand for energy for cooling in cities rose by 23% between 1970 and 2010. Until now, fans and air-conditioning systems have been the main means of cooling. However, they consume a lot of electricity and, as far back as 2018, the International Energy Agency (IEA) estimated that air-conditioning systems and fans account for around 10% of global electricity demand. According to the IEA, air-conditioning systems could be the second largest driver of global energy demand after industry by 20501. “Textiles that actively cool and do not require electricity could become a real alternative on building façades and roofs,” says Kaya.
Better protection against sepsis pathogens
Also known as blood poisoning, septicaemia is responsible for one in five deaths worldwide, as figures show. The cause of the infection are often microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi or viruses, which can be found in hospital linen and enter the body via wounds. The German company Heraeus Precious Metals received a Techtextil Innovation Award in the ‘New Technology’ category for a new antimicrobial technology designed to better protect hospital patients from infections caused by septicaemia pathogens. This involves a precious metal-based additive called AGXX. Thus, tomorrow’s clothing and bed linen in hospitals and care facilities can be expected to have better antimicrobial properties than current solutions. And this is how it works: incorporated into textiles, AGXX triggers a catalytic reaction through the interaction of two precious metals, silver and ruthenium. In turn, this reaction generates reactive oxygen, which effectively kills microorganisms. According to Heraeus, the antimicrobial efficacy of the award-winning new development has so far been proven to be effective against 130 different microorganisms and have been shown to remain in the textiles after as many as 100 washes.
Smart textile pump keeps garments dry
Comfort is one of the most important aspects of clothing. It suffers quickly when a garment gets wet, for example through perspiration. The Swedish company LunaMicro has developed an intelligent moisture management technology to remove this from shirts and jackets while they are being worn. Their technology is a multi-layered, porous textile that is connected to a small battery. Integrated into an item of clothing, this smart textile pump actively transports liquids such as sweat from the inside of the garment to the outside, keeping the wearer dry. The company was awarded a Techtextil Innovation Award in the ‘New Technology’ category for the electro-osmotic textile pump patented in Sweden and the USA. The innovation will soon be used in outdoor and protective workwear as well as in personal protective equipment (PPE). Nate Robinson, founder and CEO of LunaMicro explains: "The Techtextil Innovation Award is recognition of our innovative work. The award raises our profile and opens up new development and growth opportunities for us."
Sustainable building: Up to 30% less concrete used
Currently, the construction and building sector is responsible for around 40% of global CO2 emissions. Huge amounts of CO2 are released, particularly during the production of concrete, one of the most important building materials. The Institute of Textile Machinery and High Performance Material Technology (ITM) and the Institute of Concrete Structures (IMB) at the TUD Dresden University of Technology have received one of two Techtextil Innovation Awards in the ‘New Concept’ category for a new process that uses carbon to manufacture precast concrete elements and promises to save up to a third of concrete. The idea: to save material, hollow core slabs are used in new buildings. These are precast concrete elements which, in contrast to solid steel reinforced concrete slabs, contain cavities and therefore require less concrete. With the new manufacturing process, which the institutes have developed with companies from the textile and construction industries, precast hollow core slab elements can be produced with carbon fiber, which should save even more concrete and therefore CO2 in the future. “Hollow core slabs made from carbon concrete using our new process require 28% less concrete than conventional steel-reinforced concrete hollow-core slabs – with the same load-bearing capacity," says ITM research group leader Lars Hahn. With the award-winning process, it should soon be possible to build private and industrial buildings in a more sustainable and resource-saving way than before.
Vegan leather made from hemp waste
Biotech start-up Revoltech is also honored with a Techtextil Innovation Award in the ‘New Concept’ category. The young German company receives the award for its vegan, fully recyclable leather substitute made from hemp fibers called ‘LOVR’ (an acronym for "leather-like, plastic-free, vegan, residue-based"). According to Revoltech, LOVR is the “world's first truly circular leather substitute.” Vegan leather alternatives, explains Lucas Fuhrmann, co-founder and CEO of Revoltech, have often had two problems to date: either they are not purely plant-based because they contain petroleum-based components, or they are grown in laboratories and are therefore difficult to scale. LOVR, on the other hand, combines scalability and 100% compostability: “It is a truly circular material that will fundamentally change the market for traditional leather and artificial leather,” believes Fuhrmann. The hemp waste used for LOVR comes from industrial hemp cultivation. According to Revoltech, the award-winning leather substitute is already being used for shoes and in a concept car from car maker KIA. Moreover, it will soon be used in upholstered furniture, car interiors and clothing to ensure greater sustainability. “The Techtextil Innovation Award is a particular honor and is a great incentive for us to continue our pioneering work in the field of sustainable textiles,” says Fuhrmann.
More sustainable bonding of fibers into 3D shapes
In the ‘New Technologies on Sustainability & Recycling’ category, a Techtextil Innovation Award goes to Norafin Industries from Germany. The award honors the new ‘Hydro-Shape’ process, which uses high-pressure water jets to bond fibers into a 3D shape. “Instead of just creating textile fabrics, the new process can be used to produce three-dimensional structures in a single stage, from the fiber to the end product. Energy and material are only used where they are really needed,” says Marc Jolly, head of Research and Development at Norafin. The result is a 3D textile product that not only breaks new ground in terms of waste reduction but can also be made from biodegradable natural fibers. According to Jolly, the technology was also developed against the backdrop of the Single-Use Plastics Directive, an EU regulation aimed at combating single-use plastics, which came into force in 2021. Norafin will present the award-winning joining process to the public for the first time at Techtextil.
Organic insulation textiles instead of synthetic insulation materials
Good thermal insulation of buildings is important for climate protection because it reduces energy consumption and, therefore, the amount of heating energy required. Insulation materials such as polyurethane or polystyrene insulate well but also include fossil raw materials. To replace such synthetic materials and insulate more sustainably in the future, the German start-up SA-Dynamics joined forces with industrial partners to develop recyclable insulating textiles made from bio-based Aerogel fibers. For this, the company has been honored with the second Techtextil Innovation Award in the ‘New Technologies on Sustainability & Recycling’ category. Maximilian Mohr, chief technical officer (CTO) at SA-Dynamics says, "Society and industry are facing one of the greatest challenges since industrialization: the sustainability transformation." The EU and governments of many countries are focusing more and more on regulatory measures for greater climate and environmental protection when it comes to building insulation, explains Mohr. The new insulating textiles made from Aerogel fibers, which consist of over 90% air and can be processed on textile machines, will even outperform synthetic insulating materials in terms of their protective effect. As Mohr says, “We aim to revolutionize the world of construction.”