Australia – Flinders University researchers have developed ‘clean technology’ to dissolve waste wool and post-consumer clothing to produce a ‘high-value protein’ called keratin and other byproducts with varied potential applications.
The team of Australian scientists discovered a non-toxic, biodegradable chemical process that allows keratin to be distilled, which might benefit cosmetics or even pharmaceutical applications. Professor Colin Raston describes the breakthrough as ‘an outstanding example’ of reducing waste in a safe way to make use of and create value from an existing resource.
After breakdown using a choline-chloride-urea solvent melt, the keratin nano-materials can be further refined and freeze dried to form a protein powder, to be used for a range of products ranging from wound healing in bandages to animal feedstock, he notes.
The future of clean technology is rapidly growing as the cost of producing expensive substances is offset against the benefits of low-cost, efficient, and environmentally sustainable recycling processes such as this, Professor Raston explains.