Established in July 2021, the Sustainable and Alternative Fibers Initiative (SAFI) is the major global university-industry partnership effort focused on researching, developing, and utilizing alternative fibers to manufacture a myriad of sustainable products. Several challenges and uncertainties prevent the full-scale adoption of alternative fibers; some of those uncertainties relate to the perceived vs. real sustainability of these alternative fibers, their performance, and the capital investment required.
Feedstock supply chain
All steps in fiber production from agricultural residues and purposely grown fibers are evaluated to gain insights into their availability, biomass, cost and feedstock delivered cost.
This area focuses on determining the chemical composition (lignin, cellulose, hemicellulose, extractives, and ash) and fiber morphology of the different non-wood feedstock to understand their potential.
The conversion area aims to develop, evaluate and optimize sustainable pulping processes for alternative fibers. Conversion methods rely on traditional and nontraditional chemical, mechanical and thermomechanical pulping processes.
Fiber and product performance
SAFI team evaluates fiber, pulp, and materials properties to match the application with those to manufacture sustainable products.
Our team simulates conversion processes, models their mass and energy balances to size equipment, and thus estimates capital investment, financial return, and implied quantitative risks.
Life cycle assessment
Sustainability is core at SAFI. Life cycle assessment (LCA) models are used to assess environmental burdens associated with the production of the biomass and their conversion to fibers and final products.
Understanding consumer perception toward goods containing sustainable fibers is a crucial research area for SAFI. This research area aims to develop data-based communication strategies to connect with sustainable-oriented customers and understand their perceptions and behavior.
Mid-February 2022, SAFI Doctoral students visited Genera Inc. operations in Tennessee. The team also visited farmers that are growing alternative fibers for different applications. Students use these interactions to improve and update their supply chain and conversion process modeling.
Featured Student of the Month
Ryen Frazier is a 1st-year doctoral student at NC State and a team member of the SAFI consortium. Ryen graduated from Wilson College of Textiles in 2019 with a degree in Textile Engineering with Summa Cum Laude honors. Remained at NC State and completed a certificate in Applied Statistics and Data Management in 2020. The following year, began her master’s degree in Forest Biomaterials at NC State under the direction of Dr. Gonzalez and Dr. Pawlak. During this time, she focused on the mechanisms of dust release, control, and measurement in paper products and created a device and methodology for the measurement of hygiene tissue paper dust propensity. This year has helped with the SAFI Consortium in the product and fiber performance and dissolving pulp research areas. Appointed as research leader for the dissolving pulp and fiber spinning focus areas.
For more information, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org