Converting Textile Waste to Pumpable Slurry for Biogas Production

Investigator: North Carolina State University

Start Date:
September 2021

Award Amount:

Around 11 million tons of post-consumer textile waste (PCTW) are disposed in US landfills annually, 8% of all municipal solid waste, equating to at least $10.5 billion in lost value. PCTW is landfilled because it contains complex blends of natural and synthetic fibers that are not easy to separate. By deconstructing PCTW into less complex material streams, it will be possible to recover synthetic fibers, generate energy-rich feedstock for anaerobic digesters(ADs),and efficiently treat residuals to divert PCTW from landfills. The goal of this project is to use mild enzymatic methods to convert PCTW from large heavy solids to pumpable slurries with compositions that are compatible with microbial communities in ADs, while recovering valuable non-degraded fractions for recycling. This project will expand industry knowledge on new waste fractionation approaches that could lead to sustainable revenue for landfills in collaboration with AD projects.

Primary project objectives are:

• Enzymatically deconstruct model textile wastes to produce slurries for Ads

• Evaluate the quality of non-slurry recovered fibers for recycling potential

• Quantify conversion of textile waste slurry to methane and measure effluent

• Detect and characterize chemical residuals from model dyes and finishes

• Conduct preliminary cost analysis for process feasibility