An indigenously developed, eco-friendly plasma technology, that can be used for modifying the surface characteristics of a fibre or fabric without altering its basic properties, is ready for commercial application and can revolutionise the textile industry.
The technology known as Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Technology (APPT) is developed by the Facilitation Centre for Industrial Plasma Technologies (FCIPT) at the Institute of Plasma Research (IPR) here.
“The most attractive feature of APPT is that it does not require any special plasmagen gas. Also, plasma processing cost as well as maintenance cost of the system is very low as compared to other plasma techniques,” P B Jhala, Advisor, Plasma-Textile Application, IPR, and the person behind the development of APPT said.
“Moreover, being an environment friendly technique, it is ideal for commercial application at industrial level, especially where wet processes are being used for modifying fabric properties,” he said.
Mr. Jhala said the use of this technology would reduce the amount of dyes used for colouring fabrics, reduce water requirement, reduce pollution and conserve energy. Plasma, know as fourth state of matter besides solid, liquid and gas, is a mixture of ionised gases consisting of electrons, ions, neutral atoms, free radicals and ultra-violet radiation.
Plasma treatment could alter surface properties of a fibre and make it stain and shrink resistant, improve dying ability and spinability and give it anti-bacterial properties. Mr. Jhala said a prototype model was first developed and then tested on Angora wool.
“After observing the results of use of APPT on Angora wool, we are convinced that it could be used at industrial level. We are in talks with industrial machine manufacturers to develop machines using this technology for industrial use,” he said.
“We are also exploring use of this technology on other fibres like cotton, synthetic and silk. May be by the end of next year we may see use of this technology in the textile industry,” Mr. Jhala said.
Explaining his experience of using APPT with Angora wool, Jhala said, “Angora rabbit wool is extremely soft and it is slippery making it difficult to spin. So, the Angora fibre is blended with superfine wool, mohair, silk and alpaca while making a product out of it,” Mr. Jhala said.
“APPT was used for surface modification of fibres to enhance friction and cohesion between them. This has facilitated hand-spinning of 100 per cent Angora yarn and subsequent weaving of fabric on handloom for the making of value added products,” he said.
Mr. Jhala said APPT system has been installed in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh to help the rural population involved in making Angora wool products.
S K Nema, a member of Mr. Jhala's team, said in recent years, considerable efforts have been made to develop both low-pressure and atmospheric pressure-based plasma machinery and processes designed for industrial treatment of textile.
Some of the countries where such systems have been designed include the UK, Belgium, Germany, Italy, US and Ireland.
In India too, efforts have been made at laboratory levels at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Bombay Textile Research Association (BTRA), Mumbai, Wool Research Association (WRA), Mumbai, and Central Silk Technology Research Institute (CSTRI), Bangalore.