NZ Developing New Uses for Coarse Wool
November 2, 2018
Years of research to find new uses for coarse wool has resulted in the successful deconstruction of wool fiber to create completely new materials.
Researchers at Lincoln Agritech Ltd have successfully broken down coarse wool – which comprises around a fourth of the New Zealand wool clip – into its cellular components, creating new materials that are not wool, but contain wool attributes.
The new materials comprise tiny particles – much smaller than coarse wool – typically in the 5-10 micron range. These new, smaller ingredients open up potential new uses for coarse wool in a wide range of new industries and value chains.
Currently coarse wool has limited uses and is mainly employed to create wool carpets, a market that is in significant decline due to the growing popularity of synthetic alternatives. This has resulted in lower prices for coarse wool and a reduction in sheep farming in New Zealand.
The work is part of a $21 million, seven-year research program into new uses for coarse wool co-funded by the Wool Research Organization of New Zealand and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment. The work – which began in 2016 – is being undertaken via a WRONZ wholly-owned subsidiary, Wool Industry Research Ltd., led by Dr. Garth Carnaby.
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