Traditional textile finishing operations are carried out in aqueous
solutions and require large quantities of water - about 380 litres
of water per kilogram of cotton. What is more, these processes require
the handling and subsequent emission of harmful chemicals which
have to be treated in accordance with increasingly stringent European
legislation. Dry finishing processes like plasma treatment have
long been studied in the laboratory, but up to now, none has emerged
which can produce the same high-quality results as traditional methods.
The objective of this project was to define the potentials and
limitations of plasma treatments within the European textile industry.
First, plasma processes were studied on a laboratory scale. The
best processes were then tested on a pre-industrial scale. Incorporating
the latest developments in electronics, including advanced generators,
control and monitoring systems and pumping and electrode systems,
partners showed that dry treatment processes can be integrated into
textile production operations and can compete favourably with traditional
treatments. The new processes can also be used to improve dyeing
and spinning, and can lead to new products like antibacterial cotton
or flame retardant textiles.
At a time when textile production is increasingly moving out of
Europe and into countries with low labour costs, project partners
say their results will help to keep some activity in Europe, saving