Virginia Patent of the Month – July 2022
With fast fashion and a growing population, we are seeing a growing amount of used textiles end up in the trash each year. It’s estimated that more than 15 million tons of used textile waste is generated annually just in the United States. As a result of this limited lifespan and impact on the environment, a need for sustainable alternatives has been growing. Circ, LLC is answering this call, building the technology and systems needed for truly circular fashion.
As part of this mission, the company has developed methods for recycling cotton and polyester fibers from waste textiles. This process uses a subcritical water reaction to recycle the cellulose and polyester components of waste cotton and blended textiles. This means a combination of water, pressure, and chemicals can effectively recover certain fibers, like cellulose, from already made products.
The subcritical water reactor operates with a pH above 10 at high temperatures and high pressures for about an hour and a half. This treatment causes the cellulose fibers to shrink in size, loosening them from the excess waste textile. The different components can then be sorted, extracting cellulose and terephthalic acid (TPA). These fibers are great for use in the production of regenerated cellulose and regenerated polyethylene terephthalate – each of which can be used in fiber spinning to be reused in textiles.
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