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Bangladeshi researchers develop eco-friendly technology for textile industry

Two Professors and eleven students of the Department of Applied Chemistry and Chemical Engineering of Rajshahi University have developed a low-cost eco-friendly technology for textile industries of Bangladesh recently.

RU Prof 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.

Dr. Mohammad Taufiq Alam showing invention at Rajshahi University
Figure: Dr. Mohammad Taufiq Alam is showing his invention at Rajshahi University. Courtesy: The Daily Star

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

Prof 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.”

Textile fibers 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 the outermost noncellulosic surface, the cuticle. 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 dye ability for light shade fabric was not achieved.

Dr. Alam claimed they have synthesized a pre-treatment agent at low cost that shows a synergistic effect when used with the above eco-friendly enzymatic process. In conjunction with an 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 using conventional chemical pre-treatment process. It will also significantly improve the whiteness and dye absorbency compared to above eco-friendly enzymatic process so that light shade dyeing is achievable.

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