Bioproducts are everywhere. And now we have also bio-based shirts. Virent, the bioeconomy company headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin, announced that its BioFormPX® paraxylene was used to produce the world’s first 100% plant-based polyester shirts. “This important project- the company says – demonstrates the potential of Virent’s technology to produce demonstration quantities of bio-based, crude oil free polyester for production of garments and textiles”.
Polyester is the largest and one of the fastest growing synthetic fibers in the world: from sportswear to high-end fashion, to household and automotive uses. It’s a versatile and durable fiber that blends well with other fibers. A key raw material for the production of polyester is paraxylene, which today comes exclusively from crude oil. Virent’s technology produces BioFormPX paraxylene from plant-based materials, resulting in much lower greenhouse gas emissions, yet with the same versatility and performance as its petroleum counterpart.
According to Virent its “bio-paraxylene is identical to traditional paraxylene with one huge difference: it’s made from a 100% renewable resource, so its production results in much lower emissions of carbon, which is a contributor to climate change. The end result, its bio-polyester, performs exactly like traditional polyester because it’s chemically identical. That’s why this news is bigger than a shirt. Imagine a future where all the everyday products we use that contain traditional polyester are made from completely renewable resources. From bottles to shirts, we can expect identical performance from bio-polyester but without the environmental cost of using fossil fuels”. The U.S. company has proven that 100% plantbased polyester fabrics and petroleum-free polyester garments are achievable and a lower carbon footprint alternative to current petroleum-based fabrics.
“Virent’s BioFormPX paraxylene has previously been used to produce 100% plant-based PET plastic bottles. This project demonstrates how our technology and products can also be used to produce crude oil free polyester for use in everyday fabric and fiber applications” said Lee Edwards, Virent Ceo. “The fabric and shirts produced from plant-based polyester are identical in all aspects to petroleum polyester, with the important exception that they have a much lower carbon footprint.” Far Eastern New Century (FENC) worked with Virent to convert the BioFormPX to bio-polyester, and to produce the bio-polyester fabric and shirts.
The development of Virent’s BioForming® technology platform is supported through strategic partners including Cargill, Coca-Cola, Honda, Shell and Tesoro. In the course of its development work over the last few years, Virent has progressed its BioFormPX paraxylene technology to commercial readiness and improved the process economics. It has run its demonstration system to fulfill customer orders for both fuels and chemicals since it started operation in 2010. The company based in Madison currently has the capability to produce large quantities of BioFormPX paraxylene and other bio-based aromatic chemicals (benzene, toluene, and mixed xylenes) for application development in areas such as packaging, fabrics, and textiles. Virent also has produced sizable biofuels samples (gasoline, jet and diesel) for customer sampling and product development.