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The textile industry is energy, water, and chemical intensive industry, which is very polluting due to the high quantities of water and chemicals used, particularly dyestuffs. In 2009, a total of 954 million Kg of textiles were produced just in Europe. The quantity of synthetic colorants used in the textile industry depends on the employed type of fibre and the desired tonality. All the currently employed dyes are synthetic and derived from a non-renewable or sustainable source, oil. Synthetic dyes are very polluting, especially during manufacturing and use, because of the high content of residues in wastewaters following the dyeing process (up to 2-50%, depending on the dye & fiber type).
The main aim of the project is the demonstration and validation of processes to obtain natural dyes from algae (micro and macro), a sustainable and renewable resource, and their application in the textile industry to replace synthetic dyes. With this improvement, less contaminated wastewater will be produced because of the higher biodegradability of natural dyes, and less water purification processes will be needed. This will contribute to the application of the policies and community legislation regarding waste waters, specifically the normative 2008/105/CE on environment quality in the field of water policy which sets the maximum allowable priority substances and other chemical contaminants, and in particular the REACH regulation.
Algae absorb 16 times more CO2 than a tree for the same amount of biomass. It can be grown on wastewater from aquaculture, agriculture or urban areas, also playing an important biofiltration role. Improvements in the productivity and quality can be achieved by controlling and fine-tuning the growing conditions. Algae biomass production does not use potable water and can be made at sea or on land using non-arable areas.