Photo: Mario Steinebach
Overcoming technological obstacles in available production capabilities, the Saxon Textile Research Institute (under the project leadership of Dr. Monika Seeger) has developed a new geogrid capable of stabilizing soils on steep slopes which is demonstrating exceptional results in field studies. The STRI, based in Chemnitz Germany, worked together with the Chemnitz University of Technology to develop a new knitting machine which can produce a fabric from strands of "yarn" as thick as your arm, weighing 1 kg per meter (over 2 pounds per yard). These thick fibers are produced by the so-called KEMAFIL technique developed previously by the STRI. They are then stabilized in a snaking pattern which optimizes rain absorption and storage, to prevent erosion. The results have been described as phenomenal...
According to Bernd Anger, who with Rolf Arnold and Dr. Hans-Juergen Bauer co-engineered the new textile machine: "After last year’s winter months, there was no erosion, not even on the very steep slopes." And because of its grid design, the material is not a retaining wall but forms a bed for native plants and trees to re-establish themselves even on the steep slopes along highways or railroads.
To turn the research into reality, local firm VTT Vliestextilien transferred the newly developed technology into production scale capability. The process is expected to be able to produce the geogrids from either biodegradable or environmentally stable materials, including recycle-feedstocks from textile wastes or even hay and straw. Depending on the textiles used, the system can be designed to either store water or conduct it safely away.
In addition to providing a welcome new technology in the fight against erosion, the novel technology enhances Chemnitz's historical reputation as a textile center: in medieval times, a third of the population worked in textile production and the first water-powered spinning mill (1799) is claimed by the city. At 5% annual growth rate, the geotextiles sector is the fastest growing in the field of technical textiles in Germany.
More information can be found at the website of the TU Chemnitz (in German, with photos.) Thanks to meikamona for the tip.