Location: Cotton Chemistry and Utilization Research
Title: Biodegradable Materials for Nonwovens
Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: January 13, 2010
Publication Date: June 1, 2010
Citation: Bhat, G., Parikh, D.V. 2010. Biodegradable Materials for Nonwovens. In: Chapman, R.A., Editor. Applications of Nonwovens in Technical Textiles. Abington, Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing Limited. p. 46-62.
Interpretive Summary: Nonwovens are the fastest growing sectors of textile materials. A brief overview of the materials used in biodegradable nonwovens is provided, with some discussions about the processing of these materials into nonwoven webs. Structure and properties of such nonwovens from different biodegradable materials, especially with reference to their processing and performance are detailed. As the biodegradable nonwoven fabrics are becoming more and more important, recent developments as well as efforts going on are also discussed in this chapter. Demand for nonwoven materials in the US is expected to increase by 3.9% per year until the year 2013. This increasing market share will be driven by the strong growth in many key disposable markets such as adult incontinence products, filters, and protective apparel, and key non-disposable markets such as geo-textiles and battery separators. Natural fibers, such as cotton, kenaf, coir, jute, flax, sisal, hemp, and wood, etc., become the first choice due to their biodegradability. Some synthetic biodegradable fibers have also been used for nonwoven applications, including cellulose esters such as cellulose acetate, rayon, lyocell, etc, polyesters such as poly(lactic acid) (PLA), poly(caprolactone) (PCL), poly(hydroxybutyrate) (PHB), Biomax, Biopol, etc., and water soluble such as poly(vinyl acetate) (PVA), etc. Thus the target for biodegradable nonwovens is to replace synthetic fibers with biodegradable fibers in the disposable nonwovens.
Demand for nonwovens is increasing globally, particularly in the disposable products area. As the consumption of nonwoven products with short life increases, the burden on waste disposal also rises. In this context, biodegradable nonwovens become more important today and for the future. Several new biodegradable polymers such as PLA and Biomax have helped the industry to produce larger amounts of biodegradable nonwovens. The use of natural fibers in nonwoven products is increasing. There is continuing effort to develop new ways to produce biodegradable resins or fibers; these R&D activities are helping these environmentally friendly fabrics to become affordable materials for many consumer products.