BIOAGROTEX – Development of new agrotextiles from renewable resources and with a tailored biodegradability (2008–2012)

Increasing oil-prices, a growing threat of oil-shortages, Kyoto agreements on green house gases, environmental effects and climate changes, are all elements that contribute to the concern for the future of our oil based economy. Not only the search for biofuels but also for bio-based polymers and a more extensive use of the natural resources by upgrading the value of natural fibres and side products will be needed to cope with these problems.



7th Framework  Programme

Mr Luc Ruys (CENTEXBEL, Technologiepark 7, 9052 Zwijnaarde, Belgium)
Spoluřešitel: Ing. Marie Bjelková (Agritec, Šumperk, Czech Republic)
Start date 1. 10. 2008
End date 30. 9. 2012

Techno-economic studies predict an important growth for the bio-based polymer industry in the coming decennia. This will only be possible if new high end applications are developed. Textiles and especially agrotextiles offer a very attractive end market. Volumes in this market area are high and fast growing. At present, products are mainly based on Polyolefin’s (> 200Ktonnes/annum in Europe). Bio-based polymers in combination with natural fibres and side products can offer a good alternative, if biodegradation can be modelled and adapted according the specific end applications. Intrinsic positive properties of the bio-based polymers such as low flammability and high light fastness can boost technological advantages, leading to major economic and technologic benefits in industrial implementation. The proposed project envisages the research and development of new 100% renewable agrotextiles, via combination of natural fibres, bio-based fibres and bio-based functional additives. This requests: • new and optimised extrusion processes into fibres, yarn, monofilament or tape • processing into knitted, woven or non-woven structures and new finishing process • tailor-made mechanical and functional characteristics • a controlled and predictable biodegradation adapted to the application envisaged • a proven performance for a number of test/demonstration cases. This type of project can take a large share of the agrotextile market (up to 50%) by creation of alternatives for oil-based products and new applications.

The basic objective of the project is to develop new high end textile products, based for 100% on natural fibres and bio-based or biopolymers. The development of such products perfectly fits with the European objectives to fulfil the Kyoto protocol and to reduce the emission of “Green House Gases” by 2020 with at least 20 %, thanks to the reduced use of non renewable materials resources based on fossil fuels.

The project also corresponds to “The Strategic Research Agenda” outlined by “The European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing”. The session meetings of the Thematic Expert Group (TEG 1): “New speciality fibres & fibre composites for innovative textile products” gave birth to the project idea and initiated the preliminary set-up of the consortium.

Biorenewable polymers are in full development and are at the moment mainly used for low end products for instance packaging material and disposables.

“The requested characteristics and “life-time” in these applications are very low.”. Fast biodegradation under industrial composting conditions is requested after use. An important up-grade of these polymers can be given if they are applied in end products that have a longer lifetime and in which the intrinsic technological properties of the polymers are expressed and valorised. Agrotextiles are one of the potentially interesting endapplications in which the technological advantages of the biorenewable polymer systems can come to expression, creating at the same time an exemplary case for future developments in other areas.