Nanollose has extended its deal with fibre manufacturing conglomerate Grasim Industries as it works to get its forest-friendly Nullarbor™ fibres to market.

Australia-based biomaterial technology company Nanollose (ASX:NC6) has announced it has renewed its collaboration agreement with Grasim Industries Limited for an additional two years.

NC6 said the renewal marks a validation of the commercial potential from work carried out to-date, with both parties agreeing that an extension to the research program is warranted given results already achieved.

Birla Cellulose is the business unit responsible for fibres of Grasim Industries. Since the collaboration began in January 2020, NC6 and Birla Cellulose have worked together closely to develop a high-tenacity lyocell fibre from microbial cellulose.

Their tree-free form of cellulose is made by a natural fermentation process on a range of wastes and by-products from the food and agricultural industries.

Following several early research breakthroughs, the two companies developed a lyocell fibre called Nullarbor that was significantly stronger than conventional lyocell made from wood pulp, and which could also be spun into a fibre finer than silk.

Moreover, even when blended with wood pulp, the microbial cellulose conferred increased strength to the resulting fibre, providing an important technical advantage to the trademarked Nullarbor, over and above its environmental benefits.

Successful pilot spin

A pilot scale spin with Grasim Industries was successfully completed in February 2022 with 260kg of Nullarbor-20 staple fibre produced.

Fibre from the pilot spin was converted into a variety of yarns and fabrics, enabling samples to be sent to several fashion brands for appraisal.

The inaugural production run also demonstrated the ability of the technology to produce high quality materials using Nullarbor-20 fibre with existing industry equipment–an important barometer for future commercial applications.

Feedback from textile and fashion professionals who received samples to-date has been very positive, and comprehensive product testing has confirmed the high quality of the fabrics.

A small batch of Nullarbor fibre was also produced from 100% microbial cellulose and converted to yarn, which was then used to create a 3D-knitted garment designed by Australian designer Lee Mathews that was launched at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen in June 2022.

More recently, further improvements to the specifications of the microbial cellulose have been made with the next round of pilot fibre spins scheduled in coming weeks.

Patents granted and pending

In January 2021, the partners filed a joint patent application for the invention in India, followed by an international patent application via the Patent Cooperation Treaty in January 2022.

Last week NC6 announced it had secured its first patent in the US and the first specifically for its fibre technologies.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted the patent application titled Methods for Producing a Viscose Dope from Microbial Cellulose.

The Nullarbor fibre has also been awarded the Fibre Innovation of the Year Award 2023, which was awarded by leading private and independent research group, nova-institut GmbH.

Nanollose and Birla Cellulose were awarded the honour at the 2023 Cellulose Fibres Conference, held in Cologne, Germany.

Product development runway

NC6 chairman Dr Wayne Best said he was pleased to confirm the extension of the company’s product development partnership with Birla Cellulose, continuing an already successful collaboration.

“The positive feedback from the industry on the quality and feel of the fabrics has also been very encouraging,” he said.

“More broadly, the extension marks continued interest of Birla Cellulose to pursue ongoing commercial opportunities for the technology based on work carried out and industry feedback received to-date.”

Best said for NC6 it also provides a clear product development runway, to accelerate the development efforts towards commercialisation of this novel technology.

“The company’s recent presentation at the 2023 Cellulose Fibres Conference in Germany further highlights the ongoing recognition of our important work with Birla Cellulose,” he said.

“We are confident this will lead to additional industry recognition and other opportunities in the near term.”

This article was developed in collaboration with Nanollose, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.