University of Boras has come up with a new technique of degrading the dyes from the water bodies.
This development was a research project of doctoral student May Kahoush.
May said “In the dyeing process, the excess dyes and chemicals are flushed out with the wastewater, which causes great damage to the environment. My goal is to develop an eco-friendly method of purifying the wastewater before it is emitted.”
The conventional method of degrading dyes involves acid or oxidising solutions at high temperature for long time, utilising a large amount of energy and water and releasing harmful substances into the environment.
The latest developed process uses enzymes to degrade dyes and other chemicals, in which the enzymes need to be attached to the surface of a support material.
May explains “We have used felted carbon fibre textiles, a common material used in many different applications, and using these textiles the enzymes can attach and help degrade the dye molecules.”
She investigated three different methods to successfully attach the enzyme to the fibre material. The first process uses an eco-friendly substance from a flower, the gardenia, which assists in attaching the enzymes directly to the surface of the carbon fibre material. The second method utilises an environment-friendly coating while in the third one a cold plasma treatment was applied.
The first two processes require small amount of water, while the third one does not involve any water or chemical and consumes small amount of energy.
The successful attaching of the enzymes further creates some enzymatic activity resulting in the formation of hydrogen peroxide which further breaks down the dye particles, thus reducing the emission of dye and other pollutants.
Attaching enzyme to a base has several benefits. The enzymes can be reused and it provides a stable process. This further restricts the free floating of enzymes in the water, which creates a risk if the enzyme residuals remain on the dyed textile further causing allergic reactions and other harms.
The project was implemented within SMDTex (Sustainable Management and Design in Textiles), a doctoral programme within Erasmus Mundus on sustainable management and textile design.