Textile Processes

The production of textiles represents one of the big consumers of high water quality. As a result of various processes, considerable amounts of polluted water are released. Representative magnitudes for water consumption are 100-200 L of water per kilogram of textile product. Considering an annual production of 40 million tons of textile fibers, the release of wasted water can be estimated to exceed 4-8 billion cubic metres per year.

The production of a textile requires several stages of mechanical processing such as spinning, weaving, knitting, and garment production, which seem to be insulated from the wet treatment processes like pretreatment, dyeing, printing, and finishing operations, but there is a strong interrelation between treatment processes in the dry state and consecutive wet treatments.

For a long time the toxicity of released wastewater was mainly determined by the detection of biological effects from pollution, high bulks of foam, or intensively colored rivers near textile plants. Times have changed and the identification and classification of wastewater currently are fixed by communal regulations [1,2].

General regulations define the most important substances to be observed critically by the applicant, and propose general strategies to be applied for minimization of the release of hazardous substances. The proposed set of actions has to be integrated into processes and production steps [3]. Figure 1 gives a general overview of a textile plant and also indicates strategic positions for actions to minimize ecological impact. In this figure, the textile plant is defined as a structure that changes the properties of a textile raw material to obtain a desired product pattern. The activities to treat hazardous wastes can range from legal prohibition to costsaving recycling of chemicals. Depending on the type of product and treatment, these steps can show extreme variability.

Normally the legal regulations are interpreted as a set of wastewater limits that have to be kept, but in fact the situation is more complex and at present a complex structure of actions has been defined and has described useful strategies to improve an actual situation.

Figure 1 Flow structure of a textile plant (from Refs 2 and 3).

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