Title Development of natural nano-enabled adsorbents and filter membranes for laundry water’s purification and its subsequent (in-situ) re-usages for domestic textile laundering processes
Area Engineering sciences and technologies: Textile and leather
Presentation illustration
Duration 3. 1. 2016 – 28. 2. 2019
Funding 200.000 EUR (ARRS) + 100.00 EUR (Gorenje household appliances, L.t.d.)
Project head Prof. Dr. Vanja Kokol
Participating organizations Gorenje household appliances, Lt.d.
BIA Separations L.t.d. Separations technology company
Objectives Domestic textile laundering is a complex process where significant amounts of electric energy and water are necessary for ensuring appropriate cleaning and disinfection efficiencies. At the same time it produces large amounts of laundering wastewater that when being purified and reused would also help to achieve the desired environmental goals in line with the EU Framework Water, Energy and Waste Directives. While the wastewaters decolorization by using different natural or synthetic coagulants, adsorbents, ion exchangers and/or advanced oxidation procedures is time and space questionable, the purification of rinsing waters with natural coagulants is promising but a time-consuming process. The prevention of re-deposition of impurities (mainly colorants) during the laundering is still research limited, focused mainly on the dye-transfer-inhibitors, synthetic polymers, and efficacy-limited colour-catchers.
The aim of this project was thus to develop the prototypes (reaching TRL 6) of entirely bio-based, low-cost, and environmentally-friendly (compostable or dischargeable): i) adsorbents with the abilities to trap and absorb different loose colorants (dyes, pigments) by ion-exchange principles, thus preventing their re-deposition on the other textiles during laundering, enabling the obtaining of the same or even better washing effects and preserving the original colours of the textiles; and ii) a set of filter membranes acting synergistically and in a successive manner as highly efficient and selective filters for removal of typically present laundering impurities by ion-exchange and size-exclusion principles, thus enabling the purification of rising laundry waters to the level of their reusability in-situ during the next washing cycle.
The know-how established was expected to be further exploited in a newly developed process for the isolation/purification of large biomolecules, in line with interested of BIA Separations Ltd, a leading manufacturer of monolithic chromatographic columns.
Phases and stage of realization A new low-cost and environmentally acceptable nanocellulosic adsorbents have been developed, capable of trapping dyes and pigments extracted from colored textiles during the washing process and preventing their transfer / re-deposition on light-colored and white textiles (especially cotton, dE = 2.9-6.2) with an improved (up to 5.1%) washing effect, independent on the washing temperature (20-90ºC ).
The use of new adsorbents allows real-time regeneration of pre-wash and / or wash baths and their re-use in-situ in the next phase of the wash cycle, depending on the method of their usage (i.e. directly in the drum of the washing machine or indirectly on the bath outlet), thus the basis for more energy and environmental efficient washing processes.
New low-cost and environmentally friendly nanocellulosic / zeolite films have been introduced for softening of hard water (from 13ºn to 1ºn total hardness) with high flow (11-6,000 L / h * Mpa * m2) and the possibility of regeneration, which represent the basis for creating more efficient processes in household appliances (e.g. coffee machines and kitchen steam ovens).
The gradual micro-to-nano porous (nano)cellulose membranes with up to 100% adsorption of the dye and a capacity of up to 1800 g / kg, at a stable (150-190 kL / h * Mpa * m2) flow, was also developed, showing potential in the purification of colored waters.
In cooperation with BIA Separations d.o.o. the potential application of suitably prepared macro-porous and ion-active (nano)cellulosic membranes in the chromatography of biological macromolecules was also confirmed by obtaining, at a low flow rate for model lysozyme, a 90-95% permeability with low stagnation and dynamic binding capacity up to 0.7 mg / mg, which is a satisfactory result compared to CIM monoliths.
Bibliographic references Scientific conference contributions

NERAL, Branko, VIVOD, Vera, MIHELIČ, Aleš, KOKOL, Vanja. Nanocellulose for removal of loose dyes and impurities during a household cold laundering. In: IN-TECH 2018 : proceedings. Zagreb: Faculty of Engineering, University of Rijeka, 2018. p 105-107.

NERAL, Branko, LESJAK, Polonca, MIHELIČ, Aleš, KOKOL, Vanja. Efficiency of nanocellulose adsorbent for removal of loose dyes and impurities during a household cold laundering. In: 49th IDC: the full programme 2019. 49th International Detergency Conference, 09. – 11. April 2019, Hilton Conference Centre, Düsseldorf, Germany. p 208-216.

NERAL, Branko, MIHELIČ, Aleš, KOKOL, Vanja. Dye adsorption efficiency of surface functionalised cellulose nanofibrils during a household textile laundering. In: PETRIK, Stanislav (ed.), ELDESSOUKI, Mohamed (ed.). The 4th international conference on: Nanofibers, Applications and Related Technologies – NART, Liberec, Czech Republic, September 18 – 20, 2019. [Liberec: Technical University of Liberec], p. 14-15.

KOKOL, Vanja, GORGIEVA, Selestina, VIVOD, Vera, VAJNHANDL, Simona, SIMČIČ, Tina, ČERNIGOJ, Urh. The effect of membrane structure prepared from carboxymethyl cellulose and cellulose nanofibrils for filtration and biochromatographic separation. In: Abstract book. FILTECH 2019, International Conference and Exhibition for Filtration and Separation Technologies, Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany, October 22-24, 2019. p 190.

KOKOL, Vanja, VIVOD, Vera, SIMČIČ, Tina, ČERNIGOJ, Urh. Characterisation of membranes prepared from carboxymethyl cellulose and cellulose nanofibrils and their applicability for biochromatography. In: Abstract book. 8th Monolith Summer School & Symposium, June 15th-20th 2018, Portoroz, Slovenija. p 46.

KOKOL, Vanja, VIVOD, Vera, NERAL, Branko, MIHELIČ, Aleš. Functionalized cellulose decontamination agent: LU102795, 2021-04-29. Luxembourg: Office de la propriété intellectuelle Ministère de l’Économie, 2021. [COBISS.SI-ID 63894787]
KOKOL, Vanja, NERAL, Branko, MIHELIČ, Aleš. Nanoceluloza za odstranjevanje nevezanih barvil in nečistoč med hladnim gospodinjskim pranjem tekstilij. Informacijski bilten : bilten strokovnih informacij Gorenja. jan./mar. 2019, letn. 28, št. 1/3, p 13-20, Nanoceluloza.pdf
VIVOD, Vera, NERAL, Branko, MIHELIČ, Aleš, KOKOL, Vanja. Highly efficient film-like nanocellulosebased adsorbents for the removal of loose reactive dye during textile laundering. Textile research journal. 2019, vol. 89, iss. 6, p 975-988. DOI:10.1177/0040517518760752.
KOKOL, Vanja, VIVOD, Vera, ARNUŠ, Suzana, ČERNIGOJ, Urh, GALIČIČ, Betka, OBU, Kristina, NERAL, Branko, MIHELIČ, Aleš. Zeolite integrated nanocellulose films for removal of loose anionic reactive dye by adsorption vs. filtration mode during textile laundering. Fibers and polymers. July 2018, vol. 19, no. 7, pp 1556-1566. DOI: 10.1007/s12221-018-8036-z
GORGIEVA, Selestina, VOGRINČIČ, Robert, KOKOL, Vanja. The effect of membrane structure prepared from carboxymethyl cellulose and cellulose nanofibrils for cationic dye removal. Journal of polymers and the environment. Feb. 2019, vol. 27, iss. 2, p 318-332. DOI: 10.1007/s10924-018-1341-1.