The Swedish cleantech company OrganoClick scale up production of its alternative to perfluorinated compounds for the global textile market
- OrganoClick scales up its production of its water repellent, entirely perfluorinated compound-free, sustainable chemistry products to launch an alternative on the global market for wood, textile and fiber industries.
Stockholm, 2014-11-18, OrganoClick, the Swedish award-winning cleantech company that produces functional fiber-based material using environmentally friendly chemistry, will open a new factory in Arninge, north Täby. Investing in this new facility will result in a fourfold increase in production capacity for the company's sustainable chemistry formulations, resulting in total production of around 20,000 tonnes annually. REACH EU legislation and government authorities today impose ever increasing demands on chemical safety, but consumer pressures and demands are also increasing. OrganoClick's biodegradable technologies, which will now be widely launched on the global market, provide an alternative to perfluorinated compounds.
The new facility and machine park will open during the first quarter of 2015, and production start will include the wood preservative used to produce the eco-classed timber rot and flame protectant, OrganoWood. This is the only wood preservative marked with the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation's good environmental choice eco-label (Bra miljöval), as it does not contain heavy metals or the biocides that are normally used in the production of pressure-treated timber. The treatment of the timber takes place in collaboration with Bergs Timber, who at Nybro have the largest wood treatment facilities in the Nordic countries.
The factory will also increase the production of OrganoClick's water repellent surface treatment product for textiles, OrganoTex®. This product is entirely free from perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), such as PFOA or PFOS, which are traditionally used to produce water repellent textiles and have been shown to be toxic and extremely non-degradable.
The new OrganoClick facility will consist of a machine park of homogenisers and mixers that will produce the sustainable chemistry formulations. In addition a pilot line will be installed for the fiber moulding of three dimensionally designed "extruded" fiber composite products. The first pilot line will have a capacity of around 70,000 units annually and will produce products such as furniture or panels used in the automotive industry. The factory will also have a chemical formulation production capacity sufficient to treat 70,000 m3 of timber each year, which equates to around 10% of the Swedish market. The production capacity for OrganoClick's textile formulations will be enough to treat 13.5 million m2 of fabric, or the equivalent of the same number of water repellent jackets and coats.
“OrganoClick's technology and work with sustainable chemistry is very important and something we really encourage. Within the application areas the company is active in today there are major challenges in finding substances that can be used instead of heavy metals and PFCs. The OrganoClick technology has the potential to enable several of these substances to be phased out, which is one of the reasons the company won the Swedish Environmental Innovation Award,” says Erik Noaksson, ecotoxicologist and the former Director of the Jegrelius Institute for Applied Green Chemistry and a Swedish Environmental Innovation Award jury panel member.
In the spring of 2014 OrganoClick entered into collaboration with one of the leading Taiwanese textile manufacturers, Chang-Ho Fibers, a company that supplies textiles to world-leading companies and brands within the outdoor activities, sports and vehicle industries. After entering into collaboration, Chang-Ho Fibers has developed over a hundred fabrics that have been treated with the OrganoClick technology, and that are now being marketed and sold on the global textile market.
“Choosing OrganoTex® as a fluorcarbon-free alternative for water repellent fabric treatment was an obvious choice for us, as this technology is biodegradable and non-harmful according to the European REACH regulations,” says Mark Chen, Business Director for woven products at Chang-Ho Fibre.
During the past year OrganoClick has also entered into collaborations with Nordic stakeholders in the fashion, sports, and outdoor activities areas through a joint project with the Scandinavian Outdoor Group and its members Haglöfs, Bergans of Norway, Norröna, Houdini and Klättermusen.
Green chemistry and biomimetics
Biomimetics is a research field where technologies are developed that are inspired by the functions and properties found in nature. Examples of biomimetic products are velcro, the honeycomb structures in lightweight discs and the leaves of the lotus flower, which thanks to its structure has extremely water repellent properties.
Perfluorinated compounds in clothes and daily living
Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), also known as polyfluorocarbons, have been used in clothing and industrial applications since the 1950s. They have water repellent and stain resistant properties and are used in the majority of water repellent functional clothing and shoes. Unfortunately several PFCs, for example PFOA and PFOS, are now known to be toxic and also have hormone-disruptive properties. These substances also degrade extremely slowly, which means that they accumulate in the ecosystem. In addition to their use in textiles, fluorocarbons are also currently used in medical products and on stain resistant surfaces in industry, in electronic appliances and kitchen utensils (such as frying pans) and in fire extinguishers. Globally between 400,000 and 500,000 tonnes of fluorocarbons are produced annually.
Heavy metals and biocides in wood
In the treatment of wood, timber is coated with wood protecting substances that contain biocides and heavy metals in order to preserve the wood and prevent it from rotting. Traditionally used substances are arsenic, chromium, copper and creosote. All of these substances are classed as toxic and hazardous to the environment. In Sweden the use of arsenic and chromium is banned, but these substances are still in frequent use, for example in North America. In Sweden alone 1.2 million m3 of pressure-treated timber is manufactured annually, using a total of 5,000 tonnes of wood preservative.
Research and development
The technology was developed by Professor Armando Córdova and Associated Professor Jonas Hafén and their research groups studying biomimetic processes. Based on their research they have developed a technology that can change the properties of cellulose fibers so that these become water repellent, stronger and resistant to flame and decay. This technology is now used in applications such as flame and rot-resistant timber, strengthened paper materials and water repellent textiles. OrganoClick performs research and development over a wide area and participates in the following Swedish Government or EU funded projects:
- Eco-innovation - the development of new, environmentally friendly composite fibers.
- Bioinnovation - a strategic forestry research programme.
- Eurostars - the development of better plasterboard.
- Bioscreen - the development of textiles that can degrade to compost.
- FLHEA - improved nanocellulose substances.
- WOOBAMA - new areas of utilization for the byproducts of the pulp and paper industry