REACT: started first pre-industrial scale treatments

Technology and Controls

After confirming the possibility of removing finishing from acrylic fabrics on a laboratory scale, the project moves on to the next level.

The REACT project, funded by the European Horizon 2020 programme, aims to mechanically recycle acrylic fabrics from the production or end-of-life of awnings and umbrellas. The main issue addressed by the project is the removal of the substances on the fabrics, in particular the finishing present to ensure the required performance, to obtain a recycled material with high purity and without potentially hazardous substances.

In the first part of the project, different combinations of processes were studied with the aim of removing these chemicals from the fabrics. Removal tests were performed at laboratory scale at the Universities of Ghent and Bergamo and resulted in a multi-step process with a removal rate higher than 90%, the main objective of the project. The best removal method obtained was a candidate for the transfer to a larger process scale in a pilot plant appropriately chosen by the partner Soft Chemicals. The first test on acrylic fabric from the production of awnings and umbrellas was carried out using the conditions identified in the laboratory.

The first differentiation between the pre-industrial process and the one developed in the laboratory is the condition of the acrylic in the machine. Indeed, the laboratory process was developed on the fabric while in the pre-industrial process the acrylic was previously frayed. This mechanical action allows in the industrial process to increase the efficiency of the removal products, as it increases the contact surface with the acrylic. If these conditions show an increase in the removal rate of the finishes, the project will evaluate the possibility of decreasing the chemicals used for removal, in order to produce wastewater with less polluting potential. If not, other parameters, such as processing temperature and pressure, will have to be modified to increase the efficiency of the process, the aim being to reach and exceed the target of 90% removal.

The process wastewater was collected during the working phases and will be analysed to check the typical pollution parameters used, such as COD, BOD, TSS, etc. Indeed, one of the objectives of the project is to reduce the environmental impact by recovering, if possible, the chemicals used for removal and the finishing agents removed. This recovery will take place through multi-level wastewater treatment using membrane filtration and reverse osmosis processes. The residue will be treated with common water purification processes to reduce the environmental impact in the water sector.

For more information, please contact:

  • Roberto Vannucci

Head of Multisectoral Research and Innovation


  • Daniele Piga, PhD

Multisectoral Research and Innovation


Author: Daniele Piga

Multisectoral Research and Innovation Dept.