Our Technology

Renaissance Fiber aggressively pursues innovative technology and builds our facilities around it. Processing hemp into textile fiber presents challenging hurdles, and its prohibition in the US (as well as the current focus on nutri- and pharmaceutical cannabis derivatives) leaves the techno-scape essentially wide open. While hemp has many sustainability benefits, these are undermined by inefficient, dirty or otherwise expensive processing solutions. It becomes critical, then, to rely upon technology that preserves the sustainable nature of hemp fiber.

 

Renaissance Fiber’s patented solutions to hemp fiber processing are inherently clean:

 

  • We are able to use non-potable water sources for fiber processing

  • Our waste is inherently ‘natural’, and is capable of being rendered ecologically invisible with little cost or effort

  • The methods are accessible to a wide range of operational scales, from a small farm, to large production facilities
     

Yet, our solutions are also inherently inexpensive:

  • The material and energy overheads are miniscule

  • There are essentially zero wastewater remediation costs

  • Suitable non-potable water sources are abundant in the US Southeast, in close proximity to our ideal climate for growers and the US’s world-class textile industry

 

Challenges of Using Hemp for Fiber

Cotton fiber comes from the flowers of the cotton plant (the boll), and consists of pure cellulose, free of any inherent contamination. It is common in many parts of the world to spin cotton almost directly from the plant. Commercially, cotton processing is more involved, with multiple steps, including chemical defoliation, harvesting, ginning (cleaning, de-seeding, and baling), and then milling. Nonetheless, all of this processing is simplified because cotton fibers are essentially yarn-ready. As a result, though, much of the textile infrastructure in the US is built around the properties of cotton fiber.

Hemp fiber is similar to cotton: they are both, in purified form, cellulose. Yet, hemp fiber, as part of the bast, plays a specific role vastly different than cotton (which, as stated, is simply the plant’s flower). It is therefore quite different from cotton in its natural form: 1) Hemp fibers are typically much longer than cotton. This can limit hemp’s availability in the US’s cotton-focused yarn infrastructure. 2) Hemp fibers have a different shape. This affects their behavior in a yarn matrix. 3) In its natural form, hemp bast is not pure cellulose. Instead, hemp fibers are glued together as a natural composite to provide the strength for their role in stalk rigidity. This glue must be removed to some degree. Understandably, then, processing hemp fiber is fundamentally different than cotton. 

Specifically, hemp fibers must undergo three processes:

  1. Hemp fiber must be removed from the stalk. This is known as decortication. There is a wide range of decorticating machinery available. And since the output of decortication, in addition to fiber, includes the rest of the stalk’s material, we prefer to purchase and start with already decorticated material.

  2. Hemp fiber must be separated from its glue, or gum. This is known as degumming. There are many known methods of degumming, and most come at high cost through fiber damage, high water and chemical inputs, and/or waste treatment.

  3. Hemp fiber must be milled to appropriate lengths for use in a cotton or staple-length spinning facility.
     

Our methods address all three processes:

  • We are able to use a wide range of input material qualities

  • Our degumming methods are proprietary, clean, and scalable

  • Our mill designs use standard machinery and can be operated using exiting tobacco farm operations, or can be scaled for large production needs in dedicated facilities

Yadkinville  |  Wilmington

North Carolina, USA

©Renaissance Fiber, LLC