Creating useable water from textile waste in Egypt

With temperatures increasing around the world due to climate change, it's crucial to find ways to treat and re-use our water.

Treated water isn’t fit for drinking. It may be used for other purposes though, especially where water is generally scarce.  For example, cleaning or cooling in irrigation and industrial environments.

Textile wastewater is the wastewater produced through textile manufacturing process. This type of waste constitutes around 25% of total industrial output in Egypt.

200 litres of water are required to process 1 kg of textiles. The process releases large amounts of coloured runoff into the environment. Runoff contains toxic compounds that pose threat to aquatic life if they are disposed of without treatment.

A UK-Egypt research team has developed a way to treat industrial (textile) wastewater so it can be used again. Innovative technology uses naturally occurring bacteria present in the wastewater to treat the textile effluent and generate small amounts of electricity. The electricity can be stored and used for low power appliances.

This process will allow for wider access to treated water in areas of Egypt that have limited supply.

The team is also working to raise awareness about the issue of textile waste and train people around the world to use the technology.

With this knowledge and knowhow, their technology can be implemented as standard operating procedure for factory owners, enabling further wastewater to be treated and re-used.

“The short-time impact of the project is awareness of the industry and researchers of the possibilities to tackle industrial wastewater pollution. Mid-term impact will be felt through the installation of the prototype MFC reactors by the selected industries. The long-term impact will be at the large-scale with the implementation of successful MFCs at the country, and international level.” Tajalli Keshavarz, UK PI

Microbial Electron Transfer: Research and Innovation for Social Welfare (METRIS)

Project Leads: Professor Tajalli Keshavarz, University of Westminster, UK and Professor Ola Gomaa, Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority, Egypt.

Partner Organisations: British Council UK, Science and Technology Development Fund (STDF)

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