In November 2017 the groundbreaking recycling process “Blend Re:wind – A Swedish process for the recycling of polycotton blended textiles” was presented. In a new report researcher Hanna de la Motte, RISE and Anna Palme, Chalmers University clarifies the development process and future steps for Blend Re:wind.

precipitation of terephtalic acid in the process. Image: Stina Björquist

The Blend Re:wind process is the first of its kind chemically separating both cotton and polyester in such a way that both fibers can be reused in the making of new high quality textiles. The cotton fiber can be turn into viscose and the polyester into new durable polyester. This revolutionary process is the result of six years research within the research program Mistra Future Fashion by the partners Chalmers University of Technology, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and the international forest industry group Södra. The process is a significant step towards fully closing the loop for fashion and textiles.

This new report describes the developments made in the Blend Re:wind process and demonstrates how new fibers, namely viscose filaments, can be produced from separated and recycled cotton fibers. The produced viscose filaments were proved to have the same strength as filaments obtained from regular dissolving pulp used for textile fibers, which is crucial for further industrial processing towards recycled fabrics.

A strong benefit with the Blend Re:wind process is that the separation takes existing industries into consideration. The separation process uses chemicals already utilized in the Swedish forest industry, and in the viscose industry, which will easy future integration.

”Our separation process, Blend Re:wind, is developed having existing industrial processes in mind, and our aim is to integrate as much as possible to minimize both environmental and economic costs, while boosting businesses. Scaling up from lab scale is the biggest challenge at the moment, and it is also costly. The integration possibilities of the Blend Re:wind process would however address these challenges in feasible ways.”

Hanna de la Motte, theme leader for theme 4, Recycling, within Mistra Future Fashion and research scientist at RISE.

In addition, an environmental assessment of the Blend Re:wind process is presented in the report in order to identify future environmental potential of the process. In this section, it is important to keep in mind that the environmental assessment was made with data obtained from smaller pilot or bench scale conditions and energy and chemical demands has therefore not yet been optimized. Despite this, the environmental assessment can be used as a guiding tool in the further development of the Blend Re:wind process.

The report is written by Hanna de la Motte, RISE and Anna Palme, Chalmers University of Technology

Read the full report here.