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Researchers Develop New Textile Industrial Pollution Treatment Process

Researchers at India’s National Institute of Technology (NIT) Andhra Pradesh have developed a continuous reactor for the treatment of textile industrial effluent by nano-coupled advanced oxidation process, according to an article in India Today.

The student researchers have initiated this research toward the mission of “Clean Water” by recycling the pollutants from the city of Tirupur in the state of Tamil Nadu. India Today noted that the NIT Andhra Pradesh researchers secured second place in the Avishkaar-2022 “Student Innovation Contest” conducted by the Andhra Pradesh Council of Science and Technology in collaboration with the Adikavi Nannaya University this month.

The research was led by Dr. VC Padmanaban, Department of Biotechnology at NIT Andhra Pradesh, along with his students, Gindi Neha Madhav, Sadhana Pitambar Patil and Avanti Bhute.

“The key challenge toward the treatment of textile dye effluent is the presence of salts and high concentration of dyes, which interferes the process of degradation,” Padmanaban told India Today. “It is beneficial if a technology is developed by using the salts which are innately present in the effluent. By keeping this as the strategical point, the team has developed an advanced oxidation process which works well in the high saline conditions toward the complete removal of textile dyes.”

The thermal activation of salts results in the generation of reactive radicals, the article noted. The process focuses on the simultaneous generation of hydroxyl and sulphate radicals, which catalyzes the removal of dye pollutants.

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Dr. T Jagan Mohan Rao, head of the Department of Biotechnology at NIT Andhra Pradesh, encouraged students to scale up the process. He suggested the students participate in national and international technical events that would bring collaborative ideas towards a sustainable future.

In 2019, researchers at Texas Tech University working in advanced textiles developed a new method to remove toxic dyes from wastewater. In collaboration with researchers in the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, Seshadri Ramkumar, a professor in the Texas Tech Department of Environmental Toxicology, and doctoral candidate Lihua Lou found a way to decay the dye by filtering the water through special nanofiber webs and exposing it to visible light–a process called “photodegradation.”

When fabrics are dyed, one of the final stages is the washing process, which helps to set the dye in the fabric and remove any excess. After the dyeing process, however, the water is contaminated with leftover synthetic dyes and pigments–up to 200,000 tons each year, by some estimates, the researchers noted.

The textile industry has long been considered one of the worst contributors to water pollution and waste. The sustainability movement involving recycled, reused and renewable materials has made environmental strides, and while vegetable and less harmful chemical dyes have come into use, these processes could help solve the problem of waste from dyestuffs.