Wool is a natural fiber obtained from sheep and subjected to global supply and demand. The effective wool scouring is an essential step to remove pollutants that would otherwise impede its further processing.
The current grease wool scouring process, made in complex counter current aqueous washing trains, is extremely polluting and leads to the discharge of a large quantity of highly polluted waste liquid effluents of difficult treatment, as well as an expensive disposal without economic and social value.
As result of the project, an improvement in the clean wool quality whiteness will be achieved as well as total waste recovery (wool grease, suint and dirty).
In WDS process, a reduction of energy, chemicals, water consumption and capital expenses are expected while enhancing the competitiveness of the wool scouring process in Europe thanks to by-products selling income.
The WDS Project offers a sustainable and efficient wool scouring process based on closed-loop processing by solvent extraction and aims at the following specific objectives:
1. Demonstration of technical and economical feasibility of an innovative process to improve the yield of recuperation of by-products from wool, in particular, wool wax and wool dust, by solvent extraction. Wool wax now is an scarce renewable natural resource used for cosmetic applications with a considerable maket value an wool dust. Will replace synthetic fertilizers.
2. Reduction of loads in waste streams. In the WDS process, both water consumption and waste water pollutants will be subjected to a significant reduction, as the wool wax and dust will be previously recovered. A reduction and/or elimination of chemicals (detergents) and an important reduction of the carbon footprint associated with waste water treatment will be achieved.
3. Quality improvement of clean wool (in terms of whiteness, lower grease content, less fiber felting enhancing combing performance).
4. By-products valorization. Selling wool grease and wool dust.
5. Dissemination to a wide range of potential receiver markets and promotion of the implementation of the environmental policies related to the sustainable management.
Dry wool scouring process expected results:
1. To reach a wool grease recovery higher than 90%
2. To save around 80-95% of water use and to reduce more than 80% of chemicals use such as detergents
3. To improve clean wool quality (whiteness, low grease content, fiber openness and wool combing performance). It is foreseen an increase scoured wool sell price between 5-25% depending on wool types.
4. Technical feasibility: efficient and reliable wool dry scouring process that can be transferred to whole wool scouring sector allowing implementation of the EU environmental policy
5. Environmental and economical feasibility: the income of by-products selling, the reduction of water, energy, chemical consumption, waste water treatments and land disposal are expected. It is foreseen an overall cost reduction of 40% in comparison with the current aqueous scouring process
6. Dissemination of the results