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January 27, 2020

Hohenstein microfibre shedding test brings new data to light

Testing services provider Hohenstein has completed the development of its new method for analysing microfibre shedding from textiles, which could help to drive informed decisions in developing more sustainable textiles that shed less.

By Beth Wright

Testing services provider Hohenstein has completed the development of its new method for analysing microfibre shedding from textiles, which could help to drive informed decisions in developing more sustainable textiles that shed less.

The result of four years of research at Hohenstein, the new method uses dynamic image analysis and reveals previously unattainable data with practical implications for material development throughout the supply chain.

Led by lead researcher Jasmin Haap, the team developed, refined and validated an analytical method that it says goes beyond current approaches of measuring the shedded mass to quantify fibre count, length, diameter, and shape.

Further analysis can reveal the distribution of these attributes and generate separate results for cellulosic fibres (e.g. cotton) and non-cellulosic fibres (e.g. polyester). 

Hohenstein says this means researchers can now quantify in more detail which types of fibre and material constructions contribute most to microfibre release, leading to informed decisions in the development of more sustainable textiles that shed less.

Synthetic microfibres are tiny pieces of plastic released into water during mechanical stress, particularly washing. Wastewater containing microfibres eventually flows through sewage into larger bodies of water. Along the way, synthetic microfibres attract harmful substances and pollutants from the environment, harming sea life and entering the food chains of larger fish and humans.

Dynamic image analysis of wastewater is non-destructive, allowing additional tests, such as filtration, to be performed for further analysis. Filtration, the most common method to date, involves filtering the wastewater from textile laundering, then weighing the remaining particles.

Hohenstein’s advancement comes after the Microfibre Consortium (TMC) announced details toward the end of last year of a new microfibre shedding test method for the textile industry – which it said is the first in the world to be thoroughly tested, validated and internationally aligned.

Hohenstein joined the TMC as a contributing research member in November.

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