Dry Separation Method of Disentangled Textile Fibres by a Triboelectric System

Protein (i.e. wool) fibres are one of the most valuable fibre materials. To separate valuable disentangled protein fibres from synthetic textile materials, this invention is an environmentally friendly system which utilises the triboelectric properties of different kinds of textile fibres to perform the task. The process does not require use of any chemicals or water, thereby ensuring that no waste will be discharged to the environment. The collected clean and intact protein fibres are then ready for production of new functional or high value clothing to satisfy various market needs.

This project is an innovative attempt to recycle synthetic textile materials on top of the success of previous textile recycling projects, such as Green Machine, Garment-to-Garment Recycle System, and biological recycling method

  • Keeping the valuable fibre of blended textiles in a sustainable way by applying triboelectric effect in separation process. The system contains of a fibre disentangler and a separation chamber connected with copper helix pipes.
  • Sliver cuts are first made to each individual fibre in the fibre disentangle. When fibres rub against copper pipes, protein fibres are positively charged while synthetic fibres are negatively charged.
  • Once the fibres are moved to the separation chamber, the two high potential plate electrodes of opposing polarity are used to attract the two types of fibres, thus fibre separation.
Industry Benefit
  • A waterless and chemical-free extraction of protein fibres from textile waste
  • Making recycled protein fibres ready for re-dyeing and re-weaving to form new textiles
  • A more sustainable option over the use of virgin fibres in the clothing industry, minimising and upcycling textile wastes
Technological Breakthrough

A first attempt to recycle protein fibre using triboelectric effect. It is a dry separation process without involving water or chemicals and thus the recovered fibres do not need to be cleaned and dried up before use. 

Special Edition 2021 Inventions Geneva Evaluation Days - Silver Award
Project Name (ITF)
Dry Separation of Disentangled Protein, Cotton/ Cellulose and Synthetic Fibers by a Triboelectric System
Project Number (ITF)