Conversion of Food Waste into Polylactic acid Fibre

Land space is one of the precious resources in Hong Kong. However, landfills have constituted a considerable amount of space in our city. Some initially were intended to last until 2020. But they could be filled earlier without better waste management.

This project is a novel biological process which makes use of food waste as a raw material to produce PLA fibre by enzymatic hydrolysis, lactic acid fermentation and lactic acid polymerisation.

Application

Food waste which is rich in carbohydrate and sugars is first degraded into soluble nutrients by adding two natural enzymes. Then, the nutrients in food waste are utilised for lactic acid production by bacteria during fermentation. Lastly, lactic acid is recovered and polymerised into PLA through a chemical reaction using a novel nano-catalyst.

The PLA is produced at a high purity and spun into fibre by melt spinning, which is a convenient method for polymer fibre manufacturing. Like all natural fibres, the PLA fibre is bio-degradable and composts over time. Garments made by such PLA fibre will degrade to H2O and CO2 after their useful life and so further reduce impacts on the environment.

Technological Breakthrough

The PLA obtained can be manufactured into fibre through melt spinning and can thus play a significant role in textile production.

As the PLA is biodegradable, the final textile products can be degraded ultimately into H2O and CO2 in a natural environment. In this way, a sustainable PLA life cycle is created.

For more details, please contact us. (Email: info@hkrita.com; Tel: (852) 2627 0180)