We know that the fashion industry generates a high environmental impact due to the excess generation of clothing. During the production process the air and water are polluted. As an alternative to synthetic fibers there is lyocell. It is a type of fabric made with totally natural ideas that aims to reduce the environmental impact of fashion while achieving completely exclusive designs.

In this article we are going to teach you what lyocell fiber is, its characteristics, uses and much more.

Key features

sustainable clothing

Lyocell is a high-quality fabric made from natural fibers produced through sustainable production processes. Originally registered as Tencel in 1982, it now bears the name of the process for obtaining cellulose fibers for uses such as clothing.

It is a fiber with special properties:

  • This is a very popular fabric in the textile industry today.
  • It is a fiber of vegetable origin, which means that it is 100% natural.. It is obtained from the pulp of eucalyptus, birch or oak through a totally ecological process.
  • Unlike cotton, which requires a lot of water to grow, this fabric is more sustainable. It requires much less water and is therefore a greener option.
  • Can be dyed with the colors used in cellulose fibersespecially reactive dyes.
  • It has a wide range of uses and applications.
  • Due to its properties, it mixes well with other fibers.

Lyocell is the technical name for a fiber commercially developed by Tencel, Lenzing Lyocell. (Austria). It is a prestigious brand that has been sold worldwide for many years. It has become one of the favorite fabrics of renowned designers and fashion retailers.

Concern for the environment drives the development of Tencel. It prompted a group of researchers to look for less damaging methods, unlike viscose, the process by which rayon is made. It is a fiber similar to rayon, but it is produced without the use of carbon disulfide (very toxic to the environment and workers).

How lyocell is produced

sustainable fabric

Lyocell fiber is a textile material of natural origin that it is produced by a chemical process called “solution spinning”. This process begins with cellulose, which is found in various renewable sources such as eucalyptus wood, bamboo, and other types of plants. Cellulose is extracted from the pulp of the wood through a process of grinding and chemical decomposition.

Once the cellulose is obtained, it is dissolved in a strong and non-toxic solvent called “N-methyl-morpholine oxide” (NMMO), which is capable of breaking hydrogen bonds and making the cellulose disperse in an aqueous solution. This solution is called "cellulose solution."

The cellulose solution is then filtered and purified to remove any impurities. It is then pumped through small holes in a piece of equipment called a "spinner," where it comes into contact with a coagulation bath. This coagulation bath consists of an aqueous solution containing substances such as water or alcohol.

When the cellulose solution is exposed to the coagulation bath, a chemical reaction occurs that causes the cellulose to coagulate and form continuous filaments. These filaments are collected and mechanically stretched to form lyocell fiber yarns. The threads are then rinsed, bleached and dried.

The final result is a high quality lyocell fiber, which has exceptional properties. It is soft to the touch, breathable, absorbent, resistant and biodegradable. In addition, the production of lyocell fiber is considered environmentally friendly, since the solvent used is recovered and reused in the process, thus minimizing waste and negative impacts on the environment.

Is it sustainable?

lyocell fabric

The process for obtaining cellulose fibers from Lyocell is more environmentally friendly than the process for obtaining viscose or rayon. Lyocell has become an alternative fabric in the world of sustainable fashion. What makes it so ecological? It is biodegradable as long as it is not mixed with synthetic fibers.

The organic solvent chemicals used are non-toxic and can be used repeatedly. This means that they are not released into the environment once the process is complete. The solvent used to produce cellulose fibers is N-methylmorpholine oxide, an organic compound also known as NMMO.

Advantages of using lyocell

The use of lyocell fiber presents numerous advantages for both consumers and the environment. First of all, lyocell fiber is exceptionally soft and pleasant to the touch. Its structure of fine and uniform fibers provides a sensation of comfort and softness similar to silk, which makes it an ideal option for clothing and textile products that are in direct contact with the skin.

In addition to its softness, lyocell fiber is highly breathable. It has the ability to absorb moisture efficiently and release it quickly, thus keeping the skin dry and fresh. This is especially beneficial in hot weather or during intense physical activities, as it helps regulate body temperature and prevent sweat buildup.

Another advantage is its resistance. Although it is smooth and delicate to the touch, it is surprisingly durable. Textile products made from lyocell have good tensile and wear resistance, ensuring that garments maintain their appearance and quality over time. In addition, lyocell fiber is less prone to wrinkles compared to other materials, making it easier to care for and maintain garments.

Regarding its environmental impact, lyocell fiber is considered a sustainable option. Lyocell production uses less water compared to other textile fibers, and the NMMO solvent used in the process is recovered and reused in closed cycles, thus minimizing chemical waste. In addition, the pulp used comes from renewable sources, such as eucalyptus, which is grown responsibly without the excessive use of pesticides or fertilizers.

I hope that with this information you can learn more about lyocell fiber and its characteristics.

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