Teijin Aramid proves ability to produce high-performance fibers from green raw materials

 Teijin Aramid, a leading manufacturer of premium aramids and part of the Teijin Group, has announced the results of a sustainability-focused pilot program. Since 2018, the company has been working with its partners to develop high-performance aramid fibers from renewable, bio-based materials. The pilot proves that this innovative approach can improve the environmental impact of Teijin Aramid’s production processes, without altering the material properties of the resulting Twaron aramid yarn. The results were revealed at the Chemport Connect – Biobased & Circular Polymers event, which took place on November 17.

 Teijin Aramid produces ultra-high-strength para-aramid fibers under the brand name Twaron from its Dutch facilities, including those in Delfzijl and Emmen. The fibers are used in diverse applications around the world – from car tires to airfreight containers and protective clothing – to make them stronger, lighter, and more durable. The traditional building blocks for Twaron are finite, fossil-based raw materials, but Teijin Aramid aims to transition to greener, renewable materials as part of its long-term sustainability ambitions. Doing so will reduce the CO2 footprint of the company’s front-end manufacturing processes, while also helping customers and end users along the value chain to become more sustainable.

 Based in Groningen province, BioBTX has developed technology that transforms renewable resources, such as biomass and residual products, into chemical resources. The company uses bio-based raw materials to create benzene, toluene, and xylene (BTX) – three aromatic compounds that form the initial building blocks of multiple products, including Twaron.

In 2018, Teijin Aramid joined BioBTX and Syncom, a research organization specialized in organic chemistry, in a pilot program to explore production of Twaron yarn from bio-based BTX materials. The aim was two-fold: first, to determine the potential reduction in CO2 emissions, and second, to assess whether the transition alters the unique material properties of Twaron yarn. The pilot took place on a laboratory scale, with assistance from Chemport Europe, and financial support from the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen. The three companies worked in close alignment for more than two years, finding creative solutions for the technical challenges that arose during the project.

 On November 17, Teijin Aramid and BioBTX presented the results of the pilot at the Chemport Connect – Biobased & Circular Polymers event. The results prove that it is possible to produce Twaron yarn from green raw materials while maintaining the product’s unique qualities, including its high strength and low weight. They also show how bio-based materials can enable a significant reduction in CO2 emissions during the manufacturing process. The pilot moves Teijin Aramid closer to its goal to utilize low-carbon solutions and increase the use of renewable carbon in its raw materials. The company’s ultimate ambition is a fully circular aramid chain; this will require innovative approaches, such as the development of recycled raw materials from plastic waste, as well as increased collaboration between different partners across the value chain.

 Peter ter Horst, CEO at Teijin Aramid: “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the pilot, which has delivered useful insights to each of the parties involved. Our work with BioBTX and Syncom represents an important step forward on our sustainability journey and underlines the importance of collaboration as we work toward our goals. Our Twaron yarn is inherently green due to its sustainable value; this important cooperation with our partners is the next step as we work to create a better world for future generations. I am proud to see us moving together in the right direction, and I also thank the provinces of Drenthe and Groningen, as well as Chemport Europe, for their invaluable support.”

Cor Kamminga, BioBTX: “The use of sustainable raw materials makes a significant contribution to the circular economy, in terms of reducing the use of fossil raw materials and generating fewer CO2 emissions. Our technology produces substances that are identical to oil-based products, but to be commercially successful, we must successfully demonstrate their use in existing high-grade products, such as aramid fibers. Cooperation with a renowned partner like Teijin Aramid further validates this concept: they have the experience needed to rigorously test our products and use them in high-quality applications. This project has not only led to this positive result, but we have also gained valuable knowledge that will help drive our ongoing innovation.”