May 24, 2005
* PRESS RELEASE * * PRESS RELEASE * * PRESS RELEASE *
May 24, 2005
ASI ANNOUNCES NEW WOOL PROCESSING METHOD
For More Information Contact:
Rita Kourlis Samuelson (303) 771-3500, ext. 29, or firstname.lastname@example.orgJudy Malone (303) 771-3500, ext. 35, or email@example.comDENVER, Colo. - Wash and wear wool has been available for many years. Unfortunately, the processes used to achieve washability, while completely successful, require expensive equipment. Recognizing this, the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) teamed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC) in 2001 to develop a revolutionary new environmentally friendly wool-processing method, called biopolishing, which is now ready for commercial application. This inexpensive process will change the comfort level of wool garments.
ERRC's Jeanette Cardamone, Ph.D., developed a process to remove the outer-lipid layer from the wool fiber using activated peroxide. Removal of the lipid layer is required for the second part of the process to be successful. In the second step, wool is exposed to a special blend of enzymes that 'digest' the now exposed scales on the surface of the wool fiber. The scales on the fiber surface cause wool shrinkage; by removing them, shrinkage is minimized and the resulting garments are now washable. In addition, biopolishing makes wool fabrics brighter, whiter and more easily worn next to the skin.
To date, all of the biopolishing mill trials have been successful at treating knitted or woven fabrics; however, trials are currently under way to determine biopolishing's success with yarns and loose fibers.
"Use of enzymes have been the major source for innovations in textile finishing," says Parvez Mehta, Ph.D., ASI wool development consultant. "For some 30 years, cotton has benefited from the use of enzymes in finishing processes; most washing powders today contain enzymes. Now we are able to offer this very versatile technology on wool."
Biopolishing makes it feasible for wool to again be used by the U.S. Army for cold-weather protection because generally speaking, all clothing and textiles, procured by the Department of Defense for use by the individual services, must be 100-percent American from the fiber forward. In addition, this process can be performed domestically. The U.S. Army is preparing the first major buy (approximately 10,000 pieces) of biopolished-wool underwear as tests have revealed they are comfortable and long wearing when made from domestic fine wools. A major test will be conducted using these garments to determine the extent of the total introduction.
"This is an exciting new product for the wool industry," says Rita Kourlis Samuelson, ASI deputy director of operations and wool marketing director, "specifically for the domestic wool industry because of its application to the U.S. military, who is a primary user of U.S. wool."