Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020 - 32

The DITF central laboratory offers
comprehensive technologies for the
research and testing of fiber-based
materials and textiles. The lab can also
customize tests and develop customerspecific tests. The research center employs
about 300 scientists, technicians and
laboratory assistants who come from a
range of testing and quality assurance
areas. Photo: German Institutes of Textile
and Fiber Research (DITF) Denkendorf.

Biodegradability testing is among
those the company conducts. Although
such testing is commonly offered by labs,
the methodology can vary, delivering
results that may not be as valid as desirable.
For example, some labs will subject fabrics
or fibers to accelerated conditions, such
as extremely high temperatures or
pressures, says Beringer.
"Such tests do not mirror real-world
conditions," he says. "For example,
clothing often ends up at the top of
landfills, so, therefore, tests relying on
extremely high pressures do not provide
a true picture of how biodegradable a
fabric or fiber might actually be."
Instead, Hohenstein simulates
biodegradability under "real-world and
worst-case conditions." The methodology
he describes appears straightforward-dig
a hole in soil, place the material in the

Biodegradability is among the top-requested tests conducted at Hohenstein's testing
lab. When testing soil under aerobic conditions, biological activity is monitored on
several parameters, such as temperature, soil moisture and chemical oxygenation.
The standardized tests can be carried out under defined laboratory conditions or
outdoor conditions relevant to the practice. Photo: Hohenstein.

hole, cover it, dig it up after three months,
weigh it to determine how much has been
lost/biodegraded and (optional) analyze
the soil to see if any ecotoxicological/
harmful substances were released by
the buried textile while biodegrading.
DITF conducts research in three
areas: textile chemistry and chemical
fibers, textile and process engineering,
and management research. This, says
Stegmaier, covers "the entire textile value
chain from molecule to the product."
The company also develops products-
systems as well as technology-for textile
businesses in different fields worldwide.
Stegmaier explains a textile can be
considered sustainable if:
* The production measures and chemicals
used fit the best available technologies
around environmental protection.
* The fibers and coatings are based
on renewable resources.
* The textile is based on recycled
polymers or fibers.
* The product in application
has a long lifetime.
* The textile can be recycled.
* The textile is totally biodegradable.
* The textile is skin/body compatible.
The company offers tests and
system methods for all the above
criteria, says Stegmaier.
"For example, in the case of polymer
recycling, we are able to check the
rheological behavior of the polymer and
the spinning behavior of filaments by
thermoplastic extrusion spinning," he says.
"In the case of fiber recycling, we offer
the determination of the spinning ability
of recycled fibers to form a yarn with
different spinning technologies and of the
processing behavior of recycled fibers to
form a nonwoven.
"Regarding biodegradation, we offer
in our labs the determination of chemical
oxygen demand, biological oxygen demand,
and the degradation during composting
and in biogas fermentation processes,"

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Specialty Fabrics Review May 2020

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