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Development of an efficient route for combined recycling of PET and cotton from mixed fabrics
Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
RISE - Research Institutes of Sweden, Bioeconomy, Biorefinery and Energy.
Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.
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2017 (English)In: Textiles and Clothing Sustainability, ISSN 2197-9936, Vol. 3, no 4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Most textile waste is either incinerated or landfilled today, yet, the material could instead be recycled through chemical recycling to new high-quality textiles. A first important step is separation since chemical recycling of textiles requires pure streams. The focus of this paper is on the separation of cotton and PET (poly(ethylene terephthalate), polyester) from mixed textiles, so called polycotton. Polycotton is one of the most common materials in service textiles used in sheets and towels at hospitals and hotels. A straightforward process using 5–15 wt% NaOH in water and temperature in the range between 70 and 90 °C for the hydrolysis of PET was evaluated on the lab-scale. In the process, the PET was degraded to terephthalic acid (TPA) and ethylene glycol (EG). Three product streams were generated from the process. First is the cotton; second, the TPA; and, third, the filtrate containing EG and the process chemicals. The end products and the extent of PET degradation were characterized using light microscopy, UV-spectroscopy, and ATR FT-IR spectroscopy, as well as solution and solid-state NMR spectroscopy. Furthermore, the cotton cellulose degradation was evaluated by analyzing the intrinsic viscosity of the cotton cellulose. The findings show that with the addition of a phase transfer catalyst (benzyltributylammonium chloride (BTBAC)), PET hydrolysis in 10% NaOH solution at 90 °C can be completed within 40 min. Analysis of the degraded PET with NMR spectroscopy showed that no contaminants remained in the recovered TPA, and that the filtrate mainly contained EG and BTBAC (when added). The yield of the cotton cellulose was high, up to 97%, depending on how long the samples were treated. The findings also showed that the separation can be performed without the phase transfer catalyst; however, this requires longer treatment times, which results in more cellulose degradation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 3, no 4
Keyword [en]
Polycotton, Textile recycling, Alkaline hydrolysis, Polycotton separation, Polyester recycling, Cotton recycling
National Category
Chemical Process Engineering Polymer Chemistry
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ri:diva-29275DOI: 10.1186/s40689-017-0026-9OAI: oai:DiVA.org:ri-29275DiVA: diva2:1087719
Projects
Mistra Future Fashion
Funder
Mistra - The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research
Available from: 2017-04-10 Created: 2017-04-10 Last updated: 2017-10-06Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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