Researching sustainable materials: Kvadrat Innovation Lab harness the potential of hemp fibres

We are committed to driving sustainable development in the textile industry through our sustainability strategy, "Regenerate Together through Transparency." As part of this strategy, the Kvadrat Innovation Lab works tirelessly on researching and developing new materials and production processes which holds a potential to lower the environmental impact of textile production. In line with this, the team has embarked on an innovative project focused on harnessing the potential of hemp fibres.

What is hemp fibre?

Hemp fibre refers to the long, tough, and versatile fibres extracted from the stalks of the industrial hemp plant. Hemp plants are considered an environmentally friendly crop due to the minimal water, pesticides, and herbicides needed to grow them. Additionally, hemp is very valuable when it comes to crop rotation to clean and restore soil, meaning many farmers can use it to improve the soil quality to grow other plants. As a fibre, Hemp is highly valued for its strength and durability, making it is one of the strongest natural fibres available, making it is especially suitable for applications with high durability requirements such as textiles. Additionally, these fibres possess excellent breathability capabilities, can absorb and release moisture easily, and exhibit natural antimicrobial properties.

Optimizing processing and minimizing environmental impact

Our research is focused on unlocking the potential of hemp as a substitute for traditional fibres. We aim to optimize hemp harvesting and processing methods to produce finer and longer fibres, thereby fully harnessing their benefits. Furthermore, we explore a new scalable retting method that ensures consistent fibre quality regardless of weather conditions, replacing outdated industrial processes that cause issues like dust pollution. Advanced combing techniques are being explored to obtain fibres suitable for spinning thin yarns, resulting in high-quality end products.

We also have a strong focus on minimizing water and pesticide usage in the industry, reducing their environmental impact. It seeks to optimize the entire value chain by implementing sustainable methods for dyeing and finishing processes, which in turn reduces environmental impacts associated with traditional textile processing. Furthermore, through our research, we aim to establish transparency in the textile production process, providing consumers with information about sustainable practices and ethical sourcing. By integrating these efforts, the project strives to promote the use of hemp fibres in a more sustainable and responsible manner.

This research project and its ongoing learnings represent a significant step in the journey toward a more sustainable textile industry. With an emphasis on optimizing hemp processing and implementing environmentally friendly production practices, the aim of this project is to replace conventional materials like cotton and synthetics with hemp, and thereby pave the way for a greener future in the textile sector.

The research receives national funding through the Grand Solution program under The Innovation Foundation Denmark. A consortium consisting of DTI, VIA-University College, Aarhus University, Bio2Products, Moellerup Agro, and Kvadrat, collaboratively spearheads the project.