I have this idea that will exist one day.
The idea is simple, in Scotland we will produce brand new, beautiful cloth (textiles) from waste cloth – not “preloved”, not regurgitated, washed and dyed bits of old cloth, brand new, wearable and desirable.
The execution of it however is not so simple.
1. Reduce natural fibre product i.e. cotton, bamboo, linen, hemp, nylon*, rayon* to a cellulose. Cellulose is a long chain of linked sugar molecules that in its natural state gives wood its strength. It is the main component of plant cell walls, and the basic building block for many textiles and for paper. Cotton is the purest natural form of cellulose.
*nylon: Nature does not produce nylon, but nature does produce the materials nylon is made from. Nylon polymer forms when two large molecules react together in a pressurized heated vessel called an autoclave. The two molecules are hexane-1,6 a dicarboxylic acid, and diaminohexane 1,6. When combined, these molecules release a water base chemical and goes through a process called condensation polymerisation.
*rayon: is a manufactured regenerated cellulose fiber. It is made from purified cellulose, primarily from wood pulp, which is chemically converted into a soluble compound. It is then dissolved and forced through a spinneret to produce filaments which are chemically solidified, resulting in synthetic fibers of nearly pure cellulose. Because rayon is manufactured from naturally occurring polymers, it is considered a semi-synthetic fiber.
2. Mix that cellulose with an ionic* liquid solution.
*ionic solution: An ionic liquid is a salt in which the ions are poorly coordinated, which results in these solvents being liquid below 100°C, or even at room temperature. At least one ion has a delocalised charge and one component is organic, which prevents the formation of a stable crystal lattice.
3. This creates a liquid fibreglass like solution that when forced through increasingly smaller apertures creates a thin chord (think fishing gut) which can then be carded and reduced into a thread which can be spun into cloth.
Based in Finland the Aalto University Research School of Chemical Tech creating a knitted cloth from broken down cellulose.
Although a step in the right direction does not go far enough.
Finland, as with other countries must make decisions on the future treatment of textile waste. The EU Directive set in 1999 contains quantitative restrictions for phasing in with regard to biodegradable waste deposited at landfill sites.
Large-scale solutions to the problem are already being developed in Finland: fabric as-good-as or better than the original can be obtained by using solvents to break down worn out and even heavily soiled textiles. “Although reuse of textiles and mechanised recycling methods ease the burden on the environment, the textile mass also includes material in poor condition or heavily soiled, limiting the opportunities for recycling.
The new methods multiply the utilisation possibilities,” says Research Professor Ali Harlin of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.
“Textile recycling saves virgin raw materials for products with higher production value.
The prerequisite for functional recycling is a system that recovers textiles efficiently with regard to environmental considerations. It is important to incorporate recycling early, at least at the planning stage. The best result will be achieved when the textile and clothing industry, consumers and other stakeholders work together to build a voluntary and practical recycling system. We have gathered the key actors around the same table with the intent of developing the solution to Finland’s textile recycling,” says Anna-Kaisa Auvinen, Managing Director of Finatex – the Federation of Finnish Textile and Clothing Industries.
VTT is developing methods for restoring worn-out fibre to good-as-new condition. Research scientists are currently working on methods for separating the cellulose molecules contained in textile waste, such as cotton, using efficient and environmentally friendly solvents. Extract taken from: Phys Org
But what of the waste that is not cotton? That is mixed, mixed with viscose and or other substrates?
What of the opportunity that surrounds ash / carbon in the development of partial or impartial use within new textile? (A step too far?)
Feasibility and research continues…
Credit image (part of a collection designed by Gilchrist)