3 August 2009

Crailair: High tech hemp fibre processing to start in September

Nine tonnes per week on modern standard equipment

Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc. (NAT) a company committed to unlocking the potential of renewable and environmentally sustainable biomass resources from hemp and other bast fibers, signed an agreement with G.J. Littlewoods & Son, Inc. to manufacture Crailar(r) Organic Fibers for use in commercial products made by apparel companies.

Littlewoods, located in Philadelphia, is a commission dyehouse, specializing in the dyeing of synthetic fibers, as well as natural fibers. It intends to use state-of-the-art conventional machinery to process Crailar.

“We are excited to have signed the foremost fiber processor/dyer in North America for the next step in executing our Crailar Organic Fibers commercialization plan,” stated Ken Barker, CEO of NAT. “In September, we expect to begin producing approximately 20,000 pounds of fiber per week for our apparel partners as well as provide testing yarns to spinning companies for the home furnishings, denim and work wear markets. As such, we anticipate delivering our first revenue from Crailar in the fourth quarter. Our agreement secures initial capacity of approximately 40,000 pounds per week, with the capability to aggressively ramp up from there to meet the needs of our commercialization plans.”

Crailar Organic Fibers is a proprietary enzymatic processing technology for transforming bast fiber into superior organic fiber for apparel, home furnishings and carpeting applications. The enzyme bath produces fibers that are used as a more cost-comparable and sustainable alternative to organic cotton.

In November 2008, the company announced test results from its trials at North Carolina State University, which were sponsored by Hanesbrands Inc. In the trials, the testers spun hemp yarn and knitted fabric on conventional cotton equipment with no modifications using Crailar Organic Fibers technology. The resulting yarn was knitted into a five-ounce per square yard jersey fabric, which resulted in a 50% reduction in shrinkage, a 45% increase in tensile strength, a 20% reduction in dye uptake, and demonstrated wicking capabilities.

Source: Naturally Advanced Technologies (NAT, press release, 2009-07-29.

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