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BMW i Ventures invests in Natural Fiber Welding; plant-based leathers, yarns and foams

BMW i Ventures has invested in Natural Fiber Welding, Inc. (NFW), a creator of all-natural, plastic-free alternatives to animal- or petrochemical-based materials such as leathers, foams, and textiles. The financing round will enable the company to scale from the batch processing of materials to commercial roll-to-roll production.

NFW has developed novel technologies to replace incumbent petrochemical-based materials (e.g. synthetic leathers) and enable natural inputs to be shaped and molded into a durable, all-natural and fully recyclable leather alternative called MIRUM.


MIRUM is made with natural, biodegradable polymers. The finished materials are never coated in polyurethane and use no synthetic binders.

MIRUM is far less resource-intensive to produce than animal leather and synthetic leather. Research suggests that animal leather requires the emission of between 2-12 kg carbon dioxide equivalent per kg of animal leather produced and can vary greatly depending on where animals are raised, how tanning is achieved, etc. Synthetic polyurethane-based leathers require around 5 kg carbon dioxide equivalent per kg of synthetic polymer produced.

MIRUM requires no tanning and is made from natural polymers and materials (e.g., ‘waste’ cork powder). NFW is producing MIRUM formulations that require a fraction of a kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per kg of MIRUM produced.

In addition to having an extremely low carbon footprint, MIRUM requires no water during manufacturing and dyeing.

In addition to the investment by BMW i Ventures, BMW Group also announced its intention to form a strategic partnership with NFW to further its own sustainability goals. BMW Group has set ambitious sustainability targets as it aims to reduce CO2 emissions along the entire value chain. To achieve this, the company primarily seeks to make use of recyclable materials, or materials that have a lower carbon footprint, while still retaining the same high functionality, aesthetics, and premium quality.

Natural Fiber Welding has developed an innovative process of converting plants into all-natural, 100% recyclable material that mimic all the properties of traditional leather, yarns and foams. Having a scalable, cost-competitive alternative to leather with premium qualities is key to further advancing the decarbonization of the automotive industry.

—Kasper Sage, managing partner at BMW i Ventures

Using this fundraise, NFW will scale its production to full commercial capacity and capitalize on its existing momentum to bring its alternative material to the market. NFW was founded in 2015 and is based in Peoria, Illinois.



This is interesting enough that I went to their site.
Not any actual specifications there though, or information beyond what is here.
I was interested to know how flammable it is, and whether it can be treated for resistance.


OK, so what happens if you switch from animal leather to this synthetic leather.
Will the animals not be born - no; the same animals will be born and their meat eaten, it is just that their skins won't be used for car seats.
So the overall CO2 and CH4 levels won't really go down.

It is a bit like Greta Thunberg forcing her mother to stop flying as an opera singer. I am sure her understudy or replacement flies in her place for international tours.
And even if she didn't fly, the plane with everyone else on it would fly and the CO2 would be the same.*

Btw - why cannot Ford get their leather right. IN Ireland, all they have is black, which makes the car very dark. Why is it left to BMW and Mercedes to have light coloured leather seats, (Minor personal gripe).

*So, to save CO2, you have to stop planes flying, not individuals. You either have to pack them in better, or prevent enough people flying to cancel flights.
And you'll have to change the airport slot reservation system to make this possible.


@ mahonj - Hopefully a decline in meat consumption along with the rise of plant-based alternatives will mean that the number of animals slaughtered is lessened over time. If this product turns out to be a winner, then plant-based leathers could fill the gap in 'leather' demand left by the lesser number of animals being slaughtered for meat.

Australia also gets the wrong end of the pineapple in leather interior colours, all we mostly get is black as well. Not the greatest colour for a hot Aussie summer.

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