Yes, your new shirt, skirt or pants might be made from biomass.

The DuPont-AGCO relationship: What is Sorona?

Clothing, like sweaters, can be made from biomass using polymers such as DuPont’s Sorona.
August 1, 2017 by Glenn Farris

Yes, your new shirt, skirt or pants might be made from biomass.

The DuPont-AGCO relationship: What is Sorona?

In past postings, I have told you about all the many uses of biomass. From food and bedding for animals to electricity and fuel for our armed forces and commercial aviation, biomass is no longer just a discarded byproduct of the annual corn harvest.

But, did you know that the shirt, skirt, dress or pants you are wearing right now as you read this — just might be made from biomass?

Surprisingly, they actually might be.

DuPont® has been at the forefront of helping to find more and more uses for the millions of tons of biomass that are generated each year during the harvest season.

Working with DuPont, AGCO has helped create a sustainable and economical supply chain for cellulosic feedstocks from agricultural waste like corn stover. Much like how we work with Pellet Tech USA, for DuPont, our AGCO dealers provide equipment, operator training, spare parts, maintenance, repair, coaching and data evaluation just to name a few.

Using biomass for clothing is yet another way to utilize biomass for everyday needs — instead of the more traditional petroleum-based items.

Good things don’t always come quickly or easily. And, DuPont has been working on it for about 17 years. The persistence of DuPont scientists and engineers led to the development of Bio-PDO. Bio-PDO stands for 1,3-propanediol and is manufactured through a proprietary fermentation process using plant-derived glucose instead of petroleum feedstocks (according to reference 1 below). This is important as most consumer and industrial products are made using non-renewable resources such as petrochemicals. The DuPont brand name of this polymer is Sorona®.

Scientists were able to create clothing fibers by fermenting the sugar (glucose) into Bio-PDO and by adding TPA (polytrimethylene terephthalate). The outcome is a polymer that is 37 percent renewably sourced by weight (according to reference 2 below). In Sorona, DuPont created fibers and fabrics that can be used in clothes and carpets and whose fibers are soft and extremely stain resistant.

Officially named and commercialized in 2000, the fibers of Sorona are both soft and extremely stain resistant, while exhibiting high strength and stiffness. Sorona’s durability and stain resistance make it especially important for the carpet industry.

And, through a partnership with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), DuPont has been able to turn fructose into biomaterial (FDME). It can then be converted to high-value bio-based materials.

Now, you might be asking: What is the impact of all this? Let me tell you.

There are three key takeaways:

  • It can lead to potentially higher yields and lower operating costs.
  • FDME can also be used in packaging, textiles and engineering plastics.
  • It’s renewable.

 

Perhaps all of this sounds a bit unusual, but as much as that might be true — biomass has many important uses — and the list is continuing to grow.

Now, I’m sure you are asking yourself: Would people really purchase items made from biomass? Again, we have a resounding – YES! According to Cone Communications, Nielsen 2015 Global Survey of CSR and Sustainability, 84 percent of consumers want sustainable products. Sixty-six percent are even willing to pay more for such sustainable products.

So, now is the time to really think hard about ways that we can increase sustainability awareness in our daily lives. It’s not just about food for animals, electricity or fuel — biomass has an important role in the development of the clothing that we wear. And the American farmer is playing an ever more important role in our lives.

I’ll talk to you again soon.

References:

  1. Our Process: DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products
  2. DuPont Sorona: Eco-efficient performance fiber

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