Is it possible to completely reintroduce textile residues into a recycling cycle so that fibers become fibers again, even if there is a mixture of fibers made from different types of polymers or from synthetic and natural fibers?
In the “Tex2Mat” project, several companies from the textile industry (from both the field of technical textiles and the clothing industry) came together to work on such tasks. The cooperation took place with companies that represent the individual links in the desired recycling chain (recycling companies, compounders, fiber manufacturers) and research institutions that contributed knowledge about materials and processes. The project was funded by the FFG in the COIN Program.
In the case of fiber mixtures made of different polyamides, the decision was made not to separate them further technically, but to recycle the existing mixtures as such. A different approach was taken for blends of cotton and polyester fibers. Here, the cotton is first enzymatically split and thus separated from the textile mixture. The remaining polymer fraction can subsequently be regranulated and fed into the production of fibers.
A complete cycle has already been established on a pilot plant scale for fiber mixtures made from different types of polyamide, in which offcuts are regranulated, compounded and processed back into monofilaments. In addition, the polyamide fiber mixtures could also be prepared for further processing in injection molding. In the case of the cotton-synthetic fiber mixtures, it was possible to prove in principle that the natural fibers can be separated enzymatically and the remaining PET component can be regranulated and spun into fibers again, even if this has not yet taken place on an industrial scale.
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