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Elastic textile fibers containing carbon dioxide

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Covestro has already proven how carbon dioxide (CO2) can be used to produce soft polyurethane foam for mattresses and upholstered furniture. Based on this success, we’re turning our attention to another milestone: making elastic textile fibers more sustainable.

Two research projects have succeeded in making elastic textile fibers containing CO2 and partly replacing crude oil as a raw material. Covestro is working with university partners and various textile manufacturers to develop the production process on an industrial scale and aim to make the innovative fibers ready for the market. They can be used for socks and medical textiles, for example, and could replace conventional elastic fibers based on crude oil. The elastic fibers are made with cardyon®, a chemical component that consists in part of CO2 instead of oil.

Sustainable production process

The fibers are made from cardyon®-based thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) using a technique called melt spinning, in which the TPU is melted, pressed into very fine threads and finally processed into a yarn of endless fibers. Unlike dry spinning, which is used to produce conventional elastic synthetic fibers, melt spinning eliminates the need for environmentally harmful solvents. A new chemical method enables carbon dioxide to be incorporated in the base material of the fibers. With CO2 as an alternative raw material, a solvent-free spinning process and a presumably lower CO2 footprint, the material containing CO2 could become a sustainable alternative to conventional elastic fibers in the near future.

Our goal is to use CO2 in more and more applications in a circular economy process and save crude oil.

Dr. Markus Steilemann

CEO of Covestro

Development partners display interest

TPU fibers containing CO2 can be used in textile fabrics. Initial companies from the textile and medical engineering sectors have already tested the fibers and processed them into yarns, socks, compression tubes and tapes.

The aim of launching textiles that incorporate CO2 on the market is to promote a material cycle in the textile and clothing industry based on sustainable resources.

  • Fibers with built-in CO2 can be produced in a more sustainable, eco-friendly way than their dry-spun benchmark
  • The properties of TPU fibers with built-in CO2 are good enough to perform in many textile applications

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