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Bio-economy in wool process engineering

01 November 2017


Teesside University's biotechnology postgraduate students have been exploring bio-economy prospects for wool industries in the UK.

Dr Pattanathu Rahman (left) with his postgraduate students.
Dr Pattanathu Rahman (left) with his postgraduate students.

A recent report showed that the North of England generates an annual turnover of £91 billion and employs more than 400,000 people in the regional bio-economy.

The global production of wool is approximately 1.1 million tons per year, but a large quantity of the wool is wasted annually. The role of sheep farming in sustainable bio-economy is not recognised very well.

Dr Pattanathu Rahman, in the University's School of Science, Engineering & Design, said: 'The majority of unwanted wool is deposited in landfill sites, as there is no cost-effective solution to remove the impurities from raw wool.

'Raw wool can contain large amounts of surface impurities made up of wool wax and grease. Rhamnolipid Biosurfactant washing after microbial treatment improves the wool quality and smoothes the surface.

'Our target is to develop a fermentation based bioprocess to get Merino equivalent fine wool from the wool waste. It is a quick and easy eco-friendly green process for wool scouring and finishing established for Ryeland and Shetland wool.'