Green process cleans up hazardous textile chemicals

September 27th, 2011 - 12:26 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 27 (IANS) A green process can clean up the most hazardous chemicals used in textile dyes, which are dumped into rivers and agricultural land, claims new research.

Maria Jonstrup, doctoral student in biotechnology at Lund University, Sweden who developed this technique, 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 processes - one biological and another chemical - that the breakthrough came.

“First, microorganisms breakdown 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 (ultraviolet) light, breakdown even the most difficult structures,” she explains.

“If it works on a laboratory scale, it is quite likely that it will also work in a real-life situation,” says Jonstrup, according to a Lund statement.

“In the long term it should be possible for textile factories in India, China and Bangladesh to use the technique,” she says.

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

The technique will be tested over the years in large volumes of water, reflecting ‘real’ conditions in textile mills.

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