Featured Service Providers
hm-design Eco Architect, Eco Landscape Architect, Environmental Planner
eksalife Make a Difference With Your Travel
authentic-eco-lodges Definitive Collection of Eco-lodges of the World
hummingfish-foundation Tourism Design Consultancy



Best of Nature Tourism
Travel Guide
Follow us


Lyocell: a sustainable fabric solution 

Lyocell is a flexible and versatile fibre made from eucalyptus and other wood – and it doesn’t take lots of energy or chemicals to produce. By Jeremy Torr.

Lyocell thread ready to be made into fabric Singapore, 21 March 2015- Most people assume that clothing textiles can be split into two groups - natural fibres like cotton, wool, hemp, and silk; and manmade textiles such as nylon, polyester, lycra and so on. But there is another option – and one that claims several advantages.

Lyocell is a cellulose-based fibre manufactured from specially-grown wood pulp. An unlike cotton, wool and silk it is very easy, cheap (and energy friendly) to process. The wood pulp – often from quick-growing and arid-zone friendly eucalyptus – is broken down by special amine solutions into semi-liquid paste. The paste is then ejected under pressure from a special spinneret nozzle to form threads; these are flexible and can be woven and manipulated just like natural fibres. Lyocell is the generic name, but you can find it labeled as Tencel on garments and other items such as bedding or curtains.



Eucalyptus chips are treated with amino liquids to form a consistent cellulose pulp then spun into lyocell fibre Lyocell Process 

Lyocell Process

 The lyocell process was invented in the 1980s by researchers at textile company Courtalds, and uses a fairly simple process. The eucalyptus wood (extremely fast-growing with low water and minimal pesticide requirements) pulp is soaked in a non-toxic amine oxide solution to make the cellulose paste. Although amine oxide is sourced from hydrocarbon oil bases, it can be 95% purified and reused again and again in the lyocell process, so has a very low environmental footprint. 

This process extracts raw cellulose from the wood pulp, which can then be pumped through the fine nozzle systems to produce the lyocell filaments. The biggest makers, Austrian company Lenzing Fibers, call it a "solvent spun fiber" process that closely mimics the cellulose structure found naturally in wood and twigs.

The result is a “natural” fibre that is soft, smooth, breathable, naturally wrinkle-resistant, and relatively environmentally sustainable. The companies producing it – currently only a few plants in the US, India and Europe produce it – claim lower atmospheric emissions from smokestacks and cleaner and less) wastewater too. The processes that normally accompany other “natural” fibres such as bleaching, washing and sterilizing are absent, making lyocell much more environmentally friendly overall.

Lyocell- The good and bad

Lyocell is also strong and durable. It is the strongest cellulosic fiber when dry, even stronger than cotton or linen and is even stronger than cotton when wet. This means it can cope with many successful machine washes when woven into a fabric.

Lyocell fibres compare well for smoothness to other natural fabric The other plus is that lyocell is good for sweaty people. The fibril structure of the threads helps with moisture absorption to “create an optimal skin climate” say the makers. That means less pong, compared to synthetic fibers (which can have hundreds to thousands times higher bacteria count than lyocell) and cotton. Synthetics don’t absorb anything, and cotton only half the sweat of lyocell, say the inventors.

This also means that clothing made of lyocell remains fresh much longer than cotton – several wearings are possible. That in turn means fewer washings and a corresponding saving on water and energy.

The other big plus is that lyocell can be recycled and will also happily and quickly biodegrade given the right conditions – just like the wood it is made from. It can either be burnt to produce energy or digested in sewage plants or your own backyard compost heap. Tests have shown that lyocell fabric will degrade completely in waste treatment plants over a period of just a few days.

Although, as it comes from the nozzles, the thread is quite light in colour, lyocell does not need bleaching to produce a uniform hue, unlike cotton which produces lots of toxic by-products from its chlorine bleaching processes.

In fact bleach is often used in many “natural” fibre manufacturing processes, especially cotton, along with huge quantities of contaminated wastewater. The European Union awarded the lyocell process the Environmental Award 2000 in the category "technology for sustainable developments". And best of all, it is lovely and soft; and takes bright colour dyes well too. Is there no downside to lyocell? OK, just one.

Fluffy pill

The only downside admitted to by the makers of lyocell is that it gets furry. Over time and use it tends to “pill” like polyester garments – especially when washed a few times. This is basically the surface layers of cellulose peeling away – abit like the bark from a tree. The problem is lyocell has a relatively low surface energy, which makes it prone to pilling by weakening surface hairs so they can be fluff up and pill. This tendency can be suppressed using enzyme-based fibre coatings, but adds to the chemical tally and moves it away from that ultra eco-friendly label. The makers do claim most of these enzymes occur in nature and are responsible for the breakdown of vegetation – which still makes them more eco-friendly. Than the harsh petro-chemicals used on many other fabrics.

So that’s lyocell (or Tencel if you need the tradename). Might be worth looking for the label on your next shirt or skirt. If it has lyocell in it, you can look good as well as afford a pat on your own eco-back.

 For more info, go to : www.lenzing.com/en/fibers/tencel.html 



A Surprising Way to Make Better Batteries

Anyone with a smartphone or computer has faced the frustrations of fading battery capacity. A Princeton University professor is working though to find a way to make batteries last as long as the gadgets and cars they power. His research has turned up some interesting results.

Click to read more ...


Five Ways Businesses Can Revitalise Cities AND Reduce their Carbon Footprint

Would you like to lower your business' carbon footprint, increase its competitiveness and support a vibrant city? Follow these steps!

Click to read more ...


Jaime Lerner: Architect of Urban Acupuncture and Better Cities at Curitiba 

Jaime Lerner is the inventor of Urban Acupuncture, a startling new approach to city planning that allows people to define the space they live in.

Click to read more ...


Energy Efficient Homes Made Affordable

Eco-friendly homes may be getting cheaper and more stylish, according to recent reports from SmartPlanet.Hydronic radiant heating, passive solar designs and much more. Check out these examples from Calilfornia and Pennsylvania.

Click to read more ...


3rd Annual Sustainable Cities 2011 in Singapore To Address Good City Planning Practices

With a central theme of “Building Liveable Cities of the Future through Green Design and Good Governance”, the 3rd Annual Sustainable Cities event (27-30 September) aims to explore how good design and planning can improve city management, drive economic growth, promote sustainable development and deliver a better quality of life.

Click to read more ...


Sydney Goes Green with New Sustainable Buildings Plan

Building a high rise development in the centre of a city may not seem the best way to go green – but the designers and developers of Central Park in Sydney say their building will be just as green as any other.

Click to read more ...


Soneva Kiri's Tree-Top Den a Bamboo Marvel by Architect Olav Bruin 

The perfect family resort can be marred by too much activity from the kids. At Soneva Kiri by Six Senses, architect Olav Bruin has have brought a fantasy den to life for the children and a big smile to the faces of their relaxed parents.

Click to read more ...


Singapore Scouts go to the Himalayas to Build Green Classrooms for Remote Village Schoolchildren

Scouts from Singapore travel halfway round the world to design and build a new environmentally-sensitive classroom for remote village children in India’s West Sikkim.

Click to read more ...


Brenda Vale on Autonomous Houses and Design for Sustainability

In the small town of Southwell in Nottinghamshire, England nestles the first autonomous house in the UK. Completed in 1993 and designed by professor of architecture with the University of Auckland, green activist and author Brenda Vale, this house makes use of all the natural elements that fall on it.

Click to read more ...


Huston Eubank on Cutting Emissions, Exploring Biomimicry for Sustainable Buildings

by Jeremy Torr "I just love this quote: ‘We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities' - it really describes our current situation well." Huston Eubank, former executive director of the World Green Building Council, and principal of Green Development Services at the Rocky Mountain Institute is realistic about our situation with respect to climate change.

Click to read more ...


CDM Reforms Needed for Green Buildings

Poznan (Poland), Dec 6. A five-star hotel and an office complex in Kolkata went green in various ways but their applications to be registered under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) so that they could be paid for their troubles were rejected for no fault of theirs, an official said here Saturday.

Click to read more ...