Most people get rid of a lot of old clothes every year, and these old clothes will eventually be discarded in landfills. And now scientists at Aalto University in Finland have devised a way to basically "melt away" old clothes and use it to make new materials. One of the challenges of textile recycling is that garments are usually made from fabric blends, such as cotton and polyester. With this in mind, the Aalto research team turned to ionic liquids called 1,5-diazabicyclo [4.3.0] non-5-ene.
Previously, this liquid had been used to dissolve cellulose from wood pulp waste to create a solution that could be spun into fibers for eco-friendly apparel. This time, scientists used ionic liquids to dissolve cotton in cotton / polyester blends to degrade it into a cellulose solution. After filtering off the polyester, the solution is spun into fibers, just like cellulose in wood pulp.
Scientists are working on how to make new fibers from recycled polyester, thereby increasing the efficiency of the technology. They also want to recover the dye from the waste fabric.
Dr. Herbert Sixta, chief scientist, said: "Not only do we want to recycle garments, but we want to really produce the finest textiles that make regenerated fibers better than natural fibers." His team will be presenting this week at the American Chemistry Society 253th National Conference and Expo published research results.