e-Newsletter 57


A Novel Separation Method for Disentangling Textile Fibres

Protein fibres, like wool, are one of the valuable textile materials. HKRITA has developed a system to separate protein fibres from synthetic textile material using the triboelectric properties of different kinds of textile fibres.

The system consists of a fibre disentangler and a separation chamber, which are connected by a copper helix pipe. Sliver cuts are first made to each individual fibre in the fibre disentangler. Airflow will draw the disentangled fibres along the copper helix pipe.

Separation by Triboelectric Effect

Copper, the material of the helix pipe, is an appropriate choice of material in the triboelectric series with its low resistivity and good grounding properties. It can be used to charge protein and synthetic fibres continuously. When the disentangled fibres rub against the inner wall of the helix pipe, protein fibres give up electrons to the helix pipe. At the same time, synthetic fibres gain electrons. Protein fibres will thus become positively charged, while synthetic fibres acquire negative charging. This is how the triboelectric effect takes place.

Airflow causes the charged fibres to move along the separation chamber where two high potential plate electrodes of opposing polarity are set up. A strong electric field is thus created from the positive electrode to the negative electrode. The electric field exerts a force which brings positively charged fibres close to the negative plate. At the same time, negatively charged fibres are brought close to the positive plate. Separation takes place and the separated protein and synthetic fibres will drop into two individual collection boxes.

Environmentally Friendly Solution

It is a physical separation process without using any water or chemicals. No waste will be discharged to the environment. The recovered fibres are left clean and intact. The value of the protein fibres can be retained after separation and can be reused in the production of high-value garments.


Research Institution: The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel
Enquiry: info@hkrita.com
Website: www.hkrita.com

The system encompasses a fibre disentangler (right) and a separation chamber (left), which are connected by a copper helix pipe The helix pipe is made of copper because of its low resistivity and good grounding properties The two high potential plate electrodes of opposing polarity in the separation chamber create an electric field to bring negative charged fibres to the positive plate, and vice versa Project Video of the Novel Separation Method of Disentangled Textile Fibres