Photo: NFC machine parts
NFC GmbH Nettle Fibre Company was founded in August 2011. Originally the purpose of the enterprise was solely the decortication of nettle straw in order to market nettle fibres in textile industry. First technical trials with different hemp sorts have been conducted preliminarily in 2010. A solid and complete fibre decortication and fibre cleaning procedure for most renewable plant resources has been researched and realized.
The purchasing of straw from renewable resources of experienced farmers from North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania (MV) in Germany is secured predominantly with contracts. The fibre processing machinery park is located in Groß Helle, MV, and serves for research work in pilot plant scale as well as small production plant with a capacity of approximatly 6,000 t/a hemp straw. We can card approx. 5,000 t/a raw fibres. In the novel multi-purpose-factory we can decorticate all important bast fibre plants (flax, hemp, stinging-nettle, oilseed-flax, kenaf, etc…) as well as ramie. The procedure is lean, consumes little energy and can be operated with only three employees per shift.
Research activities to improve the procedure should be finalized essentially in 2017, to allow an enlargement of the production capacity in 2018.
Our target is to optimize the processes to achieve the same price as for linen fibres. A replacement of cotton by nettle seems not feasable due to the large cost difference.
The company’s research efforts are supported by federal state funds of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, in scope of a network from the German Ministry of Agriculture and since 2016 also by the European Innovation Program EIP North Rhine-Westphalia.
European Agriculture Fonds for the development of the rural area: Europe invests in the rural areas with involvement of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
We have assigned the company HAVETEX (Website: www.havetex.de) with the distribution of natural fibre yarns. We honestly hope that one of our cooperation partners will soon achieve a spinning process of 100 % nettle- or hemp yarns from our fine elementary fibres.
Manufacturing of our natural fibres does not need / utilize any pesticides and consumes only very little water. The principal „cradle to cradle“ is being lived as further products like shives (the small wooden parts), short fibres and other side products can be processed to top-quality useful products. For instance nonflammable wooden elements (doors, boards, coverings, furniture or construction material) have been experimentally created in cooperation with a very innovative enterprise.
Photo: shives from NFC converted in a trial to nonflammable wooden elements by partner company