Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Daniele Bissoli on Unsplash

Upcycling microfibres from laundry


A partnership between a filtration company and university researchers is developing a way to recycle carbon and other materials in microplastics

Spotted: Microfibres, or microplastics, have been receiving a lot of bad press lately. And for good reason. These tiny threads break off from textiles in the normal course of washing, drying, and wear and tear, and end up everywhere. Now, startup Xeros Technology is hoping to prevent this situation from getting worse by devising ways to upcycle captured fibres.

Xeros already manufactures a filter that captures 99 per cent of microplastics shed during washing and can be used with any washing machine. Now, the company has teamed up with the University of Surrey to develop a method for upcycling the micro and nanofibres that are shed during the washing of textiles. These fibres are made from plastics, and the researchers have devised a way to release the carbon contained in the fibres, which can then be reused.

The method takes microfibre waste collected from commercially available filters and produces clean hydrogen and solid carbon nanomaterials as by-products. These can then be used in various essential products including batteries, solar cells, and medical devices. The partnership with Xeros will allow the researchers to develop ways to scale up their process and develop a commercial-scale solution.

Although the exact environmental and health effects of microplastics are unclear, there is a growing consensus that we need to get on top of this problem. Springwise has spotted a growing number of innovations aimed at tackling this issue, including processes that use magnets, silk capsules, and apples to remove microplastics from water.

Written By: Lisa Magloff




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