Research strengthens textile industry

Victoria University research is helping Australia's textile industry remain competitive through innovative water technology.

Local manufacturer Bruck Textiles Pty Ltd has partnered with Victoria University and received $794,000 for research on converting waste heat and waste water from textile processing into recycled water.

Project leader at the University's Institute for Sustainability and Innovation, Associate Professor Mikel Duke, said previous industry trials of the technology showed desalination of wastewater – which usually relies on large amounts of electricity – could instead be powered by an industry's own waste heat.

This project is the next stage in the commercial development of Victoria University's membrane distillation technology, successfully demonstrated in previous projects funded by the Smart Water Fund, Water Quality Research Australia Ltd, City West Water and GWM Water.

Membrane distillation technology uses waste heat to evaporate wastewater through a fine membrane. This evaporated water condenses on the other side of the membrane as treated water for re-use around the plant.

"The technology is relevant to textile and other industries as saline effluent resulting from industrial processes is a common trade waste issue businesses must manage, both internally and in negotiation with water authorities," Associate Professor Duke said.

The funding comes as part of the Federal Government's investment in projects to enhance the competitiveness of Australia's textile, clothing and footwear sector.

Minister Assisting for Industry and Innovation, Senator Kate Lundy, said the projects combined research with industry know-how to boost the capability of the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) sector.

"The TCF sector is important to Australia's economy and, while it faces challenges from cheap overseas competition, these projects demonstrate that through innovation our industry also has significant potential," she said.

There are now 21 groundbreaking projects being funded by the $33 million Commonwealth program including a Textile and Fashion Hub in inner city Melbourne that provides state of the art design, training and short-run production to designers and manufacturers Australia wide.

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