Unlike other cellulosic fibres such as cotton or wood pulp, viscose fibres are distinguished by their well-defined and reproducible properties that allow them to be designed to meet the needs of processing steps and adapted to each application. For example, the porosity and surface of a filter can be precisely controlled by adding viscose fibres with different cross-sections. The incorporation of functional additives into viscose fibres allows the optimization of the fibres in respect of the intended application, for example for the removal of tannins from beer.
The advantage of functional viscose fibres: as the additives are incorporated in the fibres they do not impact the physical properties of the filter and can not migrate into the filtered product but can still function effectively. As viscose fibres are manufactured from renewable raw materials incineration at the end of filter life is CO2 neutral, or – if the residue in the filter allows – they can be composted, an ideal disposal route for precoat filter cakes in the beverage industry.
The use of viscose speciality fibres from Kelheim is completely safe both for people and for the environment, and this is one of the reasons why the fibres have been used for decades in medical products. The fibres are certified for food contact by ISEGA and the absence of harmful substances in the products is confirmed by their certification to the Oeko-Tex standard 100 in the most demanding product class. Viscose fibres are taste neutral and are currently used in food and beverage applications: coffee pads and tea bag papers are two examples for applications in which viscose fibres are used to a considerable extent.
Now, the fibre specialists are looking into a new area of applications and are exploring the suitability of their hydrophobic Olea fibre for emulsion separation.
Olea is a viscose fibre with durable hydrophobic properties. The additives used in production are approved for food contact by the FDA and the BfR and at the same time free of silicones. In a series of tests over the next months, the leading manufacturer of viscose speciality fibres will analyse how these hydrophobic properties influence the separation of water/oil mixtures. Preliminary trials have shown an accumulation of oil on the fibre’s surface which then enables the separation of the larger oil droplets.
In a next step, the Bavarians will examine the efficacy of separation of different emulsions, as well as the influence of the nonwoven construction and suitable blend partners.
Kelheim Fibres GmbH is the world’s leading manufacturer of viscose speciality fibres and the largest supplier of viscose fibres for the manufacture of femcare tampons. Every year approximately 90.000 tons of viscose fibres are produced and tested at the plant in Kelheim. The fibres are used in a wide range of applications – from fashion to hygiene and medical products, from nonwovens to speciality papers. Innovative products, flexible technologies and a strong customer orientation are the foundation for the success of the company.