Elastane is known as spandex in The US. Discovered and patented by Dupont.
Approximately 70% by weight of the new LYCRA® bio-derived elastane fiber comes from a renewable source made from dextrose derived from corn. According to INVISTA, the use of a renewable feedstock in the making of this new LYCRA® bio-derived fiber results in a lower CO2 emissions footprint than elastane produced using traditional raw materials.
The company said sustainability topics are becoming increasingly important in the textile and apparel value chain, with growing awareness and building education on the subject at the consumer, brand/retail and mill level. Commercial production quantities is planned for the autumn/winter 2015 and spring/summer 2016 collections.
INVISTA is reportedly planning to make 300-400 tons of the bio-based fiber this year, which is enough to go to tens of millions of garments worldwide. Elastane is amongst bio-BDO’s biggest potential market, as 1,4 butanediol is currently used to produce PTMEG (polytetramethylene ether glycol), a key feedstock in the production of spandex/elastane. Since PTMEG accounts for a big chunk of spandex production (the other feedstock is diisocyanate), it just makes sense that bio-BDO is the renewable chemical used in the new LYCRA® fiber.
The big question here is who is supplying bio-BDO to INVISTA? The blog has not heard anything about INVISTA developing or producing its own bio-based 1,4 BDO (developing 2,3 BDO, yes, but not 1,4 BDO). Bio-BDO is already being produced by BASF (using Genomatica’s technology) as well as toll manufactured by DuPont Tate & Lyle’s facility in Loudon, Tennessee, for Genomatica.
INVISTA is not the only one that has developed bio-based spandex. In April 2011, RadiciSpandex, a US subsidiary of Italy-based Radici Group, has introduced its own bio-based elastane fibers using a 100% corn-based biopolymer, under the brand RadElast® spandex. This bio-based spandex reportedly consists of 80% renewably-sourced material.
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The biopolymer used in this spandex reportedly had greater processability compared to petro-based PTMEG; had enhanced finished product performance characteristics (higher productivity, better stretch, reduced deterioration under stress, and decreased hysteresis effect); and improved competitiveness in the long term compared to spandex made with petro-based PTMEG.
Production location of this bio-based spandex was planned in the US, but unfortunately, the product seemed to have disappeared from Radici’s portfolio, as the blog was unable to find any follow-up news after April 2011. Radici Spandex also closed its Tuscaloosa, Alabama, production facility in December 2011. The blog is not sure if Radici Spandex still exists today as it has not been mentioned by Radici Group since 2012.
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