18/01/2011 at 8:30 am Leave a comment

Today we announced that we’ve joined forces with Hanesbrands Inc. and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) in a cooperative research project designed to cultivate and evaluate the viability of various flax strains for use in our CRAiLAR technology.  The project takes place in South Carolina and has an initial term of one year with a renewal option for two additional years.

We have already successfully transformed flax fibres blended with cotton into sustainable yarns and fabrics that posses unique properties such as moisture management and shrinkage resistance, with the comfort and price parity of cotton. The new partnership with Hanesbrands Inc. and the USDA-ARS is a strategic step in our optimization of flax fibres as the foundation for the next phase of our proprietary CRAiLAR technology.  Success of the project will result in the achievement of producing a viable, natural substitute to synthetic fibres that effectively blends with cotton to create new markets and new uses for natural fibres.

“We’ve announced previously that we had created a viable sustainable complement to cotton using flax fibre in our CRAiLAR process,” said Ken Barker, CEO of Naturally Advanced Technologies.  “This new research we’re conducting, in partnership with Hanesbrands Inc. and the USDA-ARS, allows us to identify the best possible flax strain and agricultural practices suited for the needs of the apparel and related fibre markets, and will maximize the effectiveness of our CRAiLAR process.”

The project, led by ARS, the chief in-house scientific research agency of USDA, is part of the agency’s Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) program — the primary tool linking government and industry researchers in cooperative research work.  ARS scientists will collaborate with NAT and Hanesbrands Inc. to assess various flax varieties and their viability for cultivation in the South Carolina region, as well as which crop conditions, harvesting and processing techniques will produce the highest possible yield of consistently superior fibres.  Testing will take place at two ARS research facilities in Florence and Clemson, S.C., after which we will convert the resulting flax crop into textile-grade fibres.

The all-natural, 100%-organic CRAiLAR process is the first to successfully remove the binding agents from flax that contribute to its stiff texture by processing the fibres in a patented enzyme wash using dedicated equipment.  The result is a fibre that has both the tensile strength of flax and the sought-after qualities of cotton.  Spinning trials facilitated by NAT and Hanesbrands Inc. earlier this year have proven that CRAiLAR-treated flax can be spun on existing cotton spinning machinery.

Along with Hanesbrands, we have jointly committed to provide approximately $100,000 per year in in-kind contributions to help fund the project which is expected to benefit local farmers — creating new business opportunities and potentially establishing flax as a major winter crop in the South Carolina region — and to create job prospects for the people of Kingstree, S.C.

Entry filed under: Business, Economy, Flax, Investing, Sustainability. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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