Can pond scum's become asource of high tech fibres used for making protective textiles?
Green algae blooms normallycause havoc in the waterways, and causes damage to the marine ecology systemsand fisheries as it consumes large amount of oxygen. An outbreak of these algaeeven caused a standstill in the Quingdao Olympic Games during 2008. Butcurrently, researchers have come up with a meaningful application for thesecumbersome weeds which foresees eventful textile applications.
In Southeast Asian countries,algae are used prominently for various purposes. Algae are an excellentsubstitute for chemical fertilizers, and chemical dyes and pigments. Itcontrols the emission of carbon, and carbon compounds. Modern technology hasacquired many useful substances from them. Currently, they also serve for anadded purpose, making fibres for making high tech fabrics.
These fibres were developed in alaboratory at the Qingdao University. A factory is planned in Qingdao, a cityin the eastern China with an annual production capacity of 1,000 tons offibres. Fibres can be extracted from green and brown algae, and even somedestructive algae that are believed to be dangerous to marine ecology.
Approximately 200 to 250 kg ofalginate can be extracted from a ton of dry algae which can be used to make 200kg of fibres. Production cost is estimated to be around 50, 000 to 70, 000 Yuanfor a ton. Researchers also believe that they can bring down the productioncosts, if the fibres are blended with cotton. No material derived from algae isconsidered to be a pollutant. These fabrics can be used for making protectivetextiles, which can be worn by firefighters, and in the medical field, formaking bandages. These fabrics have high strength and amazing virtues. Beingone of the worlds largest algae aquaculture countries, China has the credit of abundant availability of alginate fibres.
Algae can also be used for dyeingour clothes in an eco-friendly way. British scientists have come up with anovel application of using algae to add color to fabrics and paints. Thesealgae called diatoms are single celled organisms paced in shining shells. Theseshells add a distinctive feature to the algae, which makes them act ascrystals, enabling them to change their color depending on the configuration ofthe holes in their shell. The sensitivity of the color is maintained withoutchanging the chemical composition of the fabric. As the paint dries, the algaealign themselves horizontally at the surface, reflecting light in a uniformmanner. So, even a transparent paint, and transparent silica shells can producestrong shade. This can provide a safe and an economical alternative for dyeindustry.
Algae are one of the bestexamples for useful application of eco-friendly resources. New applications formaking fibres out of algae will positively make it, a valuable resource.
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