RU prof develops eco-friendly technology for textile

(Keywords: ECO fabric, Recycled Textile, textile)

A professor of the Department of Applied Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Rajshahi University (RU), has developed a low cost eco-friendly technology for textile industries of Bangladesh recently.

The technology will play a very positive role in significantly reducing environmental pollution by the textile industry.

Dr Mohammad Taufiq Alam, the developer, filed a provisional patent application for the invention with the Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks under the Ministry of Industries on December 9.

The technology has been developed under an industry-university collaborative sub-project of Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project (HEQEP) and is being implemented by the Department of Applied Chemistry and Chemical Engineering of RU.

This is for the first time in the country’s higher education that a total of 10 sub-projects have been awarded to eight public universities for conducting research in collaboration with industries.

Prof Alam said the technology will play a very positive role in textile pre-treatment to significantly reduce environmental pollution and also the costs in terms of savings in energy, water and effluent treatment.

Quoting a study report, Alam said the textile industries at present consume twice the volume of water consumed by the entire population of Dhaka city. Furthermore, textile pre-treatment process requires a high-energy input and generates a large amount of biochemical and chemical oxygen. The proposed technology will overcome the above shortcomings significantly, he claimed.

Textile fibres contain naturally occurring primary impurities and secondary impurities that are added during spinning, knitting and weaving.

Textile pre-treatment is a series of cleaning operations. All impurities that cause adverse effect during dyeing and printing are removed in the process. Pre-treatment processes include desizing, scouring, and bleaching which make subsequent dyeing and softening processes easy.

Cotton fabrics are mainly composed of 90% to 95% cellulose and surrounded by outermost noncellulosic surface, the cuticle. The presence of cuticle layer on the cotton surface drastically interferes with the wettability and dyeability.

Currently used conventional chemical pre-treatment process to remove the cuticle layer has led to serious water pollution as it involves the use of corrosive chemicals like sodium hydroxide, surfactants, chelators and H2O2 at boiling temperatures.

Moreover, the aggressive pre-treatment frequently damages the fabric and increases the health risks of operators. The alternative, an eco-friendly enzymatic process developed in the last few years. Despite frequent reports on this enzymatic process of cotton, its industrial use has not spread because of its inability to remove cuticle completely, as a result desired whiteness and dyeability for light shade fabric was not achieved.

Dr Alam said they have synthesized a pre-treatment agent at low cost that shows synergistic effect when used with above eco-friendly enzymatic process. In conjunction with enzyme, it will perform pre-treatment and polishing together in a single bath, so that 45% water, 35% energy and 45% time can be saved compared to currently used conventional chemical pre-treatment process. It will also significantly improve the whiteness and dye absorbency compared to above co-friendly enzymatic process so that light shade dyeing is achievable.

Prof Md Shameem Ahsan and eleven students of the same department assisted Dr Alam.

Among the students, two PhD fellows and seven MSc thesis students achieved their degrees. The research team developed their innovation after working for the last three to four years. The research work was done in collaboration with Inters Off Apparels Ltd and funded by HEQEP.

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