New Functional Textiles from Bio-based and Degradable Fibres

The textile and clothing industry is seeking eco-friendly and sustainable solutions to the increasing energy demands of production and negative effects on the environment. PLA and PHBV are 100% bio-based, biodegradable, nontoxic and biocompatible polymers. Although having good spinnability, PLA has low heat resistance, high rigidity and brittleness after long-term storage. It is difficult to apply to textile processes such as yarn texturing, dyeing and finishing. PHBV is widely used in the production of plastic goods, but because of its poor spinnability and high brittleness, it is rarely used in the textile industry.

However, the blending of PHBV and PLA into textile fibres provides greater heat stability and softness than is the case with pure PLA fibres. This project successfully developed technologies for low temperature yarn texturing and low temp dyeing processes in shorter time for green textile products made from PHBV/PLA fibre.


  • The dyeing process is optimised by identifying a set of optimal parameters, which include: dyeing temperature and time, pH values of the dye bath, and liquor ratio according to the specific properties of PLA/PHBV fabrics, such as glass transition temperature and fabric density. Disperse dyes possessing high energy levels were used since they have a close affinity to PLA and PHBV, which possess molecular structures of aliphatic polyesters. The results show that disperse orange 30, disperse red 74 and disperse blue 79 have excellent dyeing properties for PLA/PHBV fabrics.
  • A pressure stocking was developed by using covering and modified false-twist texturing with elastic yarns of good quality to achieve accurate pressure distribution. The production method meets the industrial standard for the manufacture of stockings for varicose veins.
  • The project was able to use thermoplastic PHBV materials for 3D printing.

Industry benefit

  • To obtain excellent dye exhaustion, the dye bath temperature of PLA/PHBV should be set between 90°C and 100°C, which compares favorably to the 130°C required for dyeing with PET. As such, PLA/PHBV dyeing is a low-energy process, yielding a 32% energy saving.
  • The dyeing process has high dye take-up and a high exhaustion rate of residual dyestuff in waste water. The fabric’s colour-fastness meets the industry standard. The method can be applied to the production of high quality PLA/PHBV knitwear which is thin, silk-like and soft to handle.
  • The textile products have excellent mite-resistance, achieving the highest anti-mite rank: AA. The processes are applicable to medical textiles, home textiles and fashion items which require high standards of hygiene.
  • A 3D fabrication technology was developed for biomaterial pseudo-textile structures. This improves production efficiency, and so decreases the cost of medical products created in vitro.

Technological breakthrough

  • For the first time, PLA/PHBV fabrics and medical compression stockings were manufactured through industrial textile processes modified to handle unique fibres.
  • PLA/PHBV fabrics have been shown to be naturally anti-bacterial against staphylococcus aureus, klebsiella pneumonia and candida albicans. No additional use of chemical agents is required.

Licensing Details

A non-exclusive licence covers:

  • spinning, knitting, dyeing and finishing of the PLA/PHBV yarn and fabrics;
  • production technology of the compression stocking;
  • 3D printing technology for the flexible biomedical materials with complex porous structures.


Award Name
Gold Medal with jury's commendation in the 45th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva (2017)
Silver Award in the Hong Kong Green Innovations Awards (2016)
Special award from Scientific Community of Romania in the 45th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva (2017)
Special Recognition Award (Green Tech) - Bronze Award in the 2018 R&D 100 Awards (2018)
Related ITF project
Research Start Date 2014-03-31
IP Number