Lithuanian scientists have developed a new eco-friendly technology for extracting energy from lint-microfibers found in clothes dryers.
According to the team from Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) and Lithuanian Energy Institute (LEI), 14 tons of oil, 21.5 tons of gas, and nearly 10 tons of char can be produced by converting lint-microfibers produced by 1 million people.
These findings were backed by a pilot pyrolysis plant they created for this purpose. They also developed a mathematical model to calculate possible economic and environmental outcomes of this technology.
The scientists estimate that every year approximately 80 billion pieces of clothing are consumed by the global populace and somewhere around $170 million worth of it goes into landfill.
Needless to say, this is accompanied by large amounts of emissions, causing serious environmental and health problems.
One way to tackle this problem is by lessening the footprint of laundry waste: During a machine-washing process of textile, around 300 mg of microfiber are generated from 1 kg of textile.
KTU’s Dr Samy Yousef asserts that lint-microfibers are classified as microplastics – tiny plastic pieces, less than 5 mm in diameter. These get washed down our drains and enter our seas threatening the environment.
Now thanks to the pilot pyrolysis plant built by LEI, Yousef and his team have shown that they can extract three energy products – oil, gas and char – from the collected lint-microfiber batches.
They have also successfully decomposed lint-microfibers – when treated thermally – into energy products with around a 70% conversion rate.
Alluding to how their technology could further a circular economy, Yousef opines that a collection system, similar to deposit-return for drink containers, could be developed based on their research.
A household could then bring the lint-microfiber from their drying machine filters to a collection point and receive some kind of compensation for it.
Yousef’s team has already developed other green technologies to extract cotton, glucose, and energy products from textile waste and end-of-life euro banknotes using mechanical, thermal, chemical, and biological treatments.
Image and content: taraghb-Pixabay/Kaunas University of Technology