Australian scientists discover “green chemistry” method for recycling waste wool
Researchers at Flinders University in Australia have developed an environmentally safe method for recycling waste wool into useful and valuable byproducts, including keratin.
Dr Ramiz Boulos, who worked on the breakthrough research, said the “green chemistry” involved in producing the keratin and other important byproducts from waste wool is easy, effective and environmentally friendly.
The biodegradable chemical process to extract keratin from waste wool (of which there is an abundance in the world) involves dissolving wool fibres using a “choline-chloride-urea solvent ‘melt’”. This produces “nano-materials” which can undergo further chemical processes to create a protein powder.
Dr Boulos said: “The final product would be highly useful for electro-spinning to form keratin bandages or for implantation into a hydrogel, both of which have demonstrated clear wound healing advantages.”
The Professorial Research Fellow in Clean Technology at Flinders University, Professor Colin Raston, who made the breakthrough discovery along with Dr Boulos and a team of researchers, said the discovery is further proof of the importance of recycling waste materials to produce a new and equally valuable resource.
Keratin is often used in the cosmetics industry, especially in hair care products and skin creams. The natural substance is a fibrous structural protein that is already a part of human hair, skin and fingernails and acts as a protective layer to prevent cell damage.
The team of researchers from Flinders University have published their findings in a paper called ‘Wool deconstruction using a benign eutectic melt’ that you can find in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal RSC Advances.
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