Picture: Elisabet Olausson, Renova

The most common textile material on the market contains a mix of polyester, i.e. poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET), and cotton, referred to as polycotton, and the separation of the two components is necessary before recycling. Anna Palmes PHD thesis “Recycling of cotton textiles: Characterization, pretreatment, and purification” investigates important aspects of the chemical recycling of textiles. The focus is on four areas; property changes during laundering and use of cotton, acid pretreatment of cotton, swelling properties of cotton, and separation of cotton from polycotton textiles

Anna Palme describes how textile recycling is an exciting and important research area that is fast progressing, and where both consumers, the fashion industry and the garment industry are starting to think sustainable and have an interested in new manufacturing method for textiles. To recover the fibers of these blended material there is a need to separate them, and Anna has developed a separation method based on chemicals. The polyester is separated into two substances that can then be reunited and become the new polyester. The cotton comes from the process relatively unaffected, but with shorter fibers than earlier, which can be used in the production of viscose. Anna now wants to scale up the recycling, and focus on the recovery of the cotton fibers.

Anna also got rewarded Renova’s 2017 year environmental scholarship. Congratulations to Anna!

Read more here.