Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc., (OTCBB: NADVF, TSXV: NAT), the developers of the patented CRAiLAR(R) process, announced today that they have created a sustainable, commercially viable complement to cotton using flax as a raw material.
After successfully transforming hemp fibers into yarns and fabrics with the desirable qualities of cotton, NAT stated it is now engaged in a strategic shift to use flax fibers as the foundation for the next phase of its proprietary CRAiLAR Organic Fiber technology.
"This is an industry first," said Ken Barker, CEO of Naturally Advanced Technologies. "With cotton prices currently at 90 to 93 cents per pound, flax is a cost-effective raw material for fiber production. The productivity of our process using flax is twice as efficient as it is with hemp, yielding nearly twice as much usable fiber after going through the CRAiLAR process. Our recent spinning trials with CRAiLAR-processed flax have been highly successful, which further validates the feasibility of flax as a practical, economically viable complement to cotton."
Flax is easy to grow with minimal use of herbicides, pesticides and engineered irrigation and is abundant in the U.S. and Canada, which significantly reduces costs from a supply-chain perspective as compared to other natural fibers. The CRAiLAR process can also be used with the stalk portion of the oilseed flax plant - traditionally cultivated for food and industrial applications - which would normally be discarded during processing. Making use of this byproduct, in addition to processing fiber-variety flax, further enhances CRAiLAR's sustainability factor.
The all-natural, 100%-organic CRAiLAR process is the first to successfully remove the binding agents from flax that contribute to its stiff texture. The process bathes bast fibers in a proprietary enzyme wash that transforms them into soft, yet strong and durable textile fibers, which can be used in both fashion and industrial applications. Fibers made through the CRAiLAR process have the comfort and breathability of cotton, with the strength, moisture-wicking properties and shrink-resistance of sturdy bast fibers. NAT's recent trials have proven that flax can be spun on existing machinery to produce a yarn that can be used alone or blended with other fibers.
The company is in the advanced stages of developing partner relationships with industry giants that produce goods with fashion and industrial textiles. Spinning trials are currently underway.
"The opportunity is tremendous" added Barker. "Our ability to economically commercialize flax fibers in partnership with brands who have such broad consumer bases means, for the first time, sustainability can be affordable to everyone."