Bio Xorel : Biobased Fabric Made from Sugarcane

Xorel is a high-performance textile typically used as wallcovering, paneling or upholstery It’s manufactured by Carnegie, an early proponent of environmentally-friendly, PVC-free fabrics. Since its launch in the ’80s, Xorel has been a popular choice for its safety, durability and for how easy it is to clean. And now it’s getting an environmental makeover that renders it even more earth-friendly.

Recently, Carnegie launched Biobased Xorel, the world’s first biobased high-end interior textile. Seven years of research culminated in a polyethylene yarn that is produced from 60 to 85 percent bio content, namely, sugar cane (rather than fossil fuels).

Bio-Based Xorel : From Sugarcane to Pellets to Fiber and finally Textile
Bio-Based Xorel : From Sugarcane to Pellets to Fiber and finally Textile

Sugar cane has much lower carbon emission rates compared with most other biobased materials, like corn-based materials. In fact, for each ton of sugar cane used to produce this new form of Xorel 2.5 tons of carbon is captured and sequestered. Additionally, the product can be returned to Carnegie when it is no longer needed and is recycled or put through a waste-to-energy conversion.

Fabric from Sugarcane
Fabric from Sugarcane

The Story of Carnegie Textiles

In the world of commercial interior design, it is difficult for anyone to create an original product, and even more difficult to improve on an original. Carnegie Textiles launched Xorel in 1981. It was the first textile that addressed long-term issues of maintenance and safety in commercial interiors; in many ways, it defined the category of high performance textiles and set the benchmark for customer expectations in demanding environments. Today, thirty-two years after its initial launch, Xorel continues to be Carnegie’s top selling product.

Carnegie’s founder Robert Goldman spent seven years perfecting Xorel before it was first introduced to the world of commercial interiors; his son, Carnegie president Cliff Goldman, just completed his own seven-year process of research to make Xorel the first bio-based high performance textile in the world. “The only bio-based fibers out there today for commercial use are natural products like wool, cotton and linen,” said Cliff Goldman. “I would not consider any of them to have high-performance characteristics.”

Woven from 100% solution-dyed polyethylene yarns, Xorel has always been free of chlorine, plasticizers, heavy metals, toxic dyes and ozone-depleting chemicals. “Polyethylene is basically hydrogen, carbon, color and some UV stabilizers; that means it is inherently flame-retardant, stain-resistant, antimicrobial, durable, non-absorbent and easily cleaned.”

Fabric from Sugarcane
Fabric from Sugarcane

Xorel’s only downside was an environmental one; the material to produce it originally came from natural gas, a nonrenewable resource. “Oil and natural gas are similar in that, one day our world will run dry of it,” said Mr. Goldman. “What we wanted to do was come up with a way to make the same Xorel polymer from plantbased raw materials.” Since the new bio-based Xorel continues to be made from polyethylene, it is identical to the petroleum-based Xorel on a molecular level, but the resource for creating the new Xorel is the sugarcane plant.

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