Love hugging trees? Wear them too!

People around the world consume over 23 million tons of cotton per year. It takes up to 20 000 liters of water to produce a single kilogram of cotton. We need man-made fibers to take over this environmental culprit – otherwise the world will run out of natural resources and you will run out of clothes.

That’s why we, researchers from Aalto University and the University of Helsinki, have come up with Ioncell. It’s a technology that turns pulp into textiles without harmful chemicals. Through this three-step process we convert cellulose into fibers which in turn can be made into long-lasting fabrics.

Ioncell in a nutshell

  • The Ioncell process uses a novel solvent called ionic liquid. It’s an environmentally friendly solvent that can be recycled and isn’t flammable like many others.
  • Ioncell fibers feel soft and are strong even when wet. They’re tenacious and work well in both clothing and technical applications.
  • The Ioncell process could revolutionize the recycling of textile waste. It enables waste cotton to get a new life as high-quality fibers.
Ioncell infographic: loop
Ioncell infographic

Ioncell could help satisfy the increasing global demand for cotton without exploiting natural resources. What’s stalling us, then?

Money. We need funding in order to conduct the final stages of our research. After that Ioncell could transform the clothing retail industry as you know it.

1–3 million euros within the next 3 years …

will enable us to develop a technique for recycling the solvent we use when turning cellulose into fibers. This is the final step in our research. We have excellent solvents optimal for dissolving cellulose and spinning high-quality fibers, but one problem remains: the solvent cannot be fully reused. To be able to produce large quantities of fibers and thus large quantities of fabric we need to be able to recycle the solvent.

10 million euros within the next 5 years…

will give us the chance to create a pilot plant, a small factory, where textiles could be produced for customers to test. The capacity we’re looking for is 100 kg of fibers per day. For this we need the support of a company.

50–60 million euros once the pilot plant has proven to be successful ...

will get us a commercial factory, where actual commercial fibers can be made.

Let’s collaborate!

Ioncell is first and foremost a research project. That’s what excites us and makes us want to go to work every morning. On top of having a lot of scientific value Ioncell has immense amounts of commercial potential. We want to see Ioncell fulfill every ounce of its potential.

Investors!

Are you looking for a research-based idea that helps make fabric production more ethical? Ioncell can be used in clothing, technical fabrics, interiors, even cars. With us you can be a part of creating something completely new out of a renewable resource. With your help the first clothes made out of Ioncell fibers could be in stores in five years.

Business people!

We’re scientists and academics, which means our expertise is not as much in business as in research. That’s why we need your input. Would you like to help us found a company? Or act as our CEO?

Designers!

We’re a multidisciplinary group and we welcome creative people to work with our fabrics. Ioncell fibers are tenacious, feel wonderful and are a pleasure to work with. We’ve already collaborated with Marimekko – would you like to be next?

Get in touch, we’d love to hear from you and come up with a game plan.

Professor Herbert Sixta
lead researcher, Aalto University
herbert.sixta@aalto.fi
+358 50 384 1764

See it for yourself

From Birch to Catwalk –
the Journey of Ioncell Fiber

Ioncell in the public eye

  • 2015: Winner of the Global Change Award, an innovation challenge by H&M Foundation
  • European Recovered Paper Council (ERPC) Paper Recycling Award 2015
  • Helsinki Challenge 2016–2017 semi-finalist

Recycling Technique That Makes Cotton-Polyester Into Stronger Fibers May Avoid Clothes Ending In Trash, The Science Times, 4.4.2017

An Eco-Friendly Fix for Fast Fashion, Nexus Media, 3.4.2017

This Chemistry Might Just Give Outdated Fast Fashion A New Life, Forbes, 3.4.2017

Vuoden 2016 tekstiilitaiteilija Pirjo Kääriäinen kehittää ympäristöystävällisiä materiaaleja, Helsingin Sanomat 18.3.2016. (in Finnish)

Jäähyväiset puuvillalle? Kokopuinen huivi on yllättävän pehmeä, Yle Uutiset 18.2.2016. (in Finnish)

Puuvilla käy vähiin – Suomalainen keksintö sai H&M:n palkinnon tekstiilikierrätyksen kehittämiseen, Suomen Kuvalehti 18.2.2016. (in Finnish)

Suomalaistiimin jätepuuvillainnovaatio nappasi voiton H&M-säätiön kisassa, Markkinointi&Mainonta 12.2.2016. (in Finnish)

Suomalainen puuvillan kierrätyksen mullistava menetelmä voitti ruotsalaisen ideakilpailun, Helsingin Sanomat 11.2.2016. (in Finnish)

Prinsessa Victoria ojensi 300 000 €:n palkinnon – Suomessa kehitetty puuvillankierrätysmenetelmä voitti H&M:n säätiön kilpailun 2700 ehdotuksen joukosta, Tekniikka&Talous 11.2.2016. (in Finnish)

Vaatejätti etsi kierrätysinnovaatioita: Suomalaisille 300 000 euron pääpalkinto, Aamulehti 11.2.2016. (in Finnish)

Pukeudumme pian puuhun – vallankumouksellinen ioninen liuotin muuttaa koivun, kuusen ja männyn kankaaksi, Helsingin Sanomat 22.12.2015. (in Finnish)

Aalto University

Core team from Aalto

Herbert Sixta
Michael Hummel
Sanna Hellsten
Pirjo Kääriäinen

Helsinki University

Core team from the University of Helsinki

Jussi K. J. Helminen
Ilkka Kilpelainen
Alistair King
Susanne Wiedmer

Ioncell