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From textile waste to improved fabrics

EcoNote | August 22, 2014 | By:

Facing a January 2016 deadline ending the disposal of textile waste in landfills, the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is developing methods to restore worn-out fiber to good-as-new condition. Scientists are currently working on methods for separating the cellulose molecules contained in textile waste, such as cotton, using solvents.

VTT, Aalto University and Tampere University of Technology are working together to develop recycled textile fibers in the Design World of Cellulose project, a major technological effort of Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation.

Dissolving textile waste allows large volumes of waste to be returned to textile production. Recovering cellulose molecules will also serve to promote the efficient use of materials. VTT is currently developing methods for handling large quantities of textile waste material. Large-scale solutions to the problem are already being developed in Finland, and fabric as good as or better than the original is being obtained by using solvents to break down worn out and even heavily soiled textiles.

VTT is developing methods for recycling, de-coloring, bleaching and dissolving textiles, which are fed into the process both intact and as loose scraps. Color is then removed and the solubility of the cellulose increased. After the application of solvents and removal in solution, the recovered cellulose is spun into fiber. The remaining fibrous material is normally polyester, which can be melted down and used in the preparation of fibers and composites.

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