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New method cleans up textile industry's most dangerous chemicals
Date:9/26/2011

Textile dying is one of the most environmentally hazardous aspects of the textile industry. During dying, harmful chemicals that are difficult to break down are released, all too often into rivers and agricultural land. However, Maria Jonstrup, a doctoral student in Biotechnology at Lund University, has developed a new, environmentally friendly purification process which leaves only clean water. The findings are presented in Maria Jonstrup's thesis.

The research is so far only research, and has therefore only been tested in the laboratory, but Maria Jonstrup is optimistic about its future potential.

"In the long term it should be possible for textile factories in India, China and Bangladesh to use the technique. If it works on a laboratory scale it is quite likely that it will also work in a real-life situation", she says.

While working on her thesis, she has conducted experiments with both fungal enzymes and bacteria from the drains at textile industry and municipal wastewater treatment plants. However, it was only when she combined two different types of purification process, one biological and one chemical, that the breakthrough came.

"First, microorganisms break down the dyes in a reactor. This biological step is the most important. However, to be certain that the water is completely purified, I also use some chemicals. Small amounts of iron and hydrogen peroxide in combination with UV light break down even the most difficult structures", she explains.

A combination of both biological and chemical purification is already used in some places, but these methods are rarely effective, which means that large quantities of hazardous chemicals are released.

Soon, two Master's students will be taking over the baton. They will spend a year testing the technique in larger volumes of water, which more closely reflect the conditions in real textile factories. Their challenge will be to study how the UV light in the
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Contact: Maria Jonstrup
Maria.Jonstrup@biotek.lu.se
46-707-421-752
Lund University
Source:Eurekalert

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