New revolutionary process for cotton-polyester blends separation – Meet Anna Palme, Chalmers University of Technology.

Anna is developing a new processes for separation of cotton-polyester blends in order to produce recycled fibers with the same quality as virgin fibers. She works as a PhD student in chemical engineering with focus on the forest industry. Her aim is to defense her doctoral thesis in January 2017 and she works within Theme 4 recycling.


What is the goal of theme 4 “Recycling”’ and what is your primary work within the theme?
The goal is to leverage the potential in recycling of textiles and to allow the industry to invest, by contributing with basic research that is lacking today.

I have two focus areas; firstly, I look at the difference between cotton and wood based starting materials, in relation to the viscose production. Today, wood is used in the manufacture of viscose, but in the future used cotton might be incorporated into the process. For this to work, we need to supply knowledge of how the cotton fiber is affected by use as well as various chemical treatments.

My second focus is the separation of cotton and polyester. This is a very important step towards recycling of the textile, since the blend of cotton and polyester constitute the largest amount of textiles within the service industry. In order to recycle both of them, there is a significant need for an efficient separation method.

If you would reflect upon Mistra Future Fashions vision and program in general, what would you say is the best and the most important thing with MFFs work?
The comprehensive and multidisciplinary approach regarding the system perspective as all parts of the textile chain is very important; no single part can be excluded and all disciplines need to collaborate in order to solve such a complex societal problem.

What is your best sustainability tip?
Consume wise and in small amounts. People and relationships are more important than items.


Read Anna’s work:
Palme A, Idström A, Nordstierna L, Brelid H (2014) Chemical and ultrastructural changes in cotton cellulose induced by laundering and textile use Cellulose 21:4681-4691 doi:10.1007/s10570-014-0434-9

Palme A, Theliander H, Brelid H (2016) Acid hydrolysis of cellulosic fibres: Comparison of bleached kraft pulp, dissolving pulps and cotton textile cellulose Carbohydr Polym 136:1281-1287 doi:10.1016/j.carbpol.2015.10.015

Palme A, (2015) Characterization of cellulose in post-consumer cotton textiles. Licentiate thesis.