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Bio-based BDO in Lycra fibre in 2024

Qira will be produced at Cargill’s biotechnology campus in Iowa.

29th September 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Eddyville, Iowa, USA

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

The Lycra Company has entered into an agreement with Qore to enable the world’s first large-scale commercial production of partially bio-derived spandex using Qira, the next generation 1,4-butanediol (BDO) as one of its main ingredients.

This will result in 70% of the Lycra fibre content being derived from annually renewable feedstock. This could potentially reduce the carbon footprint of Lycra fibre by up to 44% compared to equivalent product made from fossil-based resources, while maintaining the same high-quality performance parameters of traditional Lycra.

Qira will be produced at Cargill’s biotechnology campus and corn refining operation in Eddyville, Iowa. The facility, which is currently being built, will commence operations in 2024. The first Lycra fibre made with Qira will be produced at Lycra’s Singapore manufacturing site in 2024 and the company is currently seeking commitments from brand and retail customers who are pursuing bio-derived solutions for their apparel.

“We are committed to delivering products that support a more circular economy while helping our apparel and personal care customers reduce their footprint,” said Julien Born, CEO of The Lycra Company. “Qore’s expertise in operating fermentation processes and understanding of the chemical value chains makes it the ideal partner to help develop a bio-derived Lycra fibre at commercial scale.”

The first generation of renewable Lycra fibre made with Qira will use feedstock from field corn grown by Iowa farmers. In addition to replacing a finite resource with an annually renewable one, another benefit for mills, brands and retailers is that there is no change in fibre performance, eliminating the need for any re-engineering of fabrics, patterns or processes. Equivalent performance was demonstrated in 2014 when the world’s first bio-derived spandex was launched under the Lycra brand. The Lycra Company has since been granted a patent for the process used to make renewable elastane from bio-derived BDO.

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