Leading viscose speciality fibre manufacturer, Kelheim Fibres, is looking into a new area of applications and exploring the suitability of its innovative hydrophobic Olea fibre for emulsion separation. Olea is a viscose fibre with durable hydrophobic properties. The additives used in production are approved for food contact by the FDA and the BfR and at the same time free of silicones.
In a series of tests in the coming months, the company will analyse how these hydrophobic properties influence the separation of water/oil mixtures. Initial trials have shown an accumulation of oil on the fibre’s surface which then enables the separation of the larger oil droplets.
As a follow up, Kelheim will examine the efficacy of separation of different emulsions as well as the influence of the nonwoven construction and suitable blend partners. The incorporation of functional additives into viscose fibres is said to allow the optimization of the fibres in respect of the intended application, for example for the removal of tannins from beer.
One of the advantages of use of functional viscose fibres is that they do not affect the physical properties of the filter and cannot migrate into the filtered product but can still function effectively as additives are incorporated in the fibres. As these fibres are manufactured from renewable raw materials, the incineration at the end of filter life is CO2 neutral, or if the residue in the filter allows, they can be composted, an ideal disposal route for precoat filter cakes in the beverage industry.
According to Kelheim, the use of viscose speciality fibres from the manufacturer is completely safe both for people and for the environment. This is one of the reasons why fibres are being used in medical products. ISEGA certifies the fibres for food contact and the absence of harmful substances in the products is confirmed by their certification to the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 in the most demanding product class.