Environmentally friendly clothing company Hemptown believes the development of its Crailar fibre will encourage hemp to become a viable alternative to cotton in clothing, and has signed a deal with the National Research Council to jointly commercialise the technology.

Hemptown said it would work with Alberta Research Council (ARC) to commercialise its new textile fibre technology, which has been developed jointly with National Research Council (NRC).

Specifically, ARC has been contracted to conduct pilot tests on samples to establish the industrial parameters required for Hemptown's Crailar sustainable fibre technology .

Hemptown chief executive, Jerry Kroll, said: "This is a key time in the development of Crailar. We look forward to seeing the results of ARC's tests and appreciate their help in assessing Crailar as a viable biotech tool in the processing of Hemp."

Hemptown and federal science organisation NRC jointly developed Crailar as a patentable enzyme process that transforms industrial hemp into a soft, white fibre.

Hemp is an environmentally sensitive fibre that is grown organically without the use of pesticides, toxic fertilisers or the vast amounts of fresh water irrigation required by cotton.

ARC will take the NRC-developed enzyme from the test-tube, apply it to full pilot plant samples, and finally render 100kg bundles of refined Hemp fibre.

The research is one step in the overall process to develop large-scale commercial textile applications for Crailar in apparel, homewares, flooring and more.
  
Kroll continues: "With our Crailar fibre, we have the ability to grow a Canadian equivalent to cotton.

"This has the potential to become one of the largest cash crops for Canadian farmers and will have a dramatic economic impact on agricultural communities from coast to coast."

Hemptown supplies wholesale and private-label customers throughout North America through offices in Vancouver, Shanghai, China and Blaine, Washington.