Fleecy clean (1989)

Fleecy clean (1989)


[Music playing] (Dr Brett Bateup) It’s a
great sense of excitement. I’m rarely in my office when
we’re conducting a trial. I’m down there, with the overalls on,
looking at everything that’s going on because it’s really a culmination
of all of your previous experiments and ideas that you’re putting
them to the acid test as it were. [Music playing] (Narrator) In the world of high fashion wool
is uniquely prized for its’ versatility. A fabric for all seasons and all occasions [Music playing] but without constant
research and innovation wool’s pre-eminence in the fiercely
competitive textile market would soon be eclipsed. The latest breakthrough goes
right back to the paddock. It’s hard to imagine anything further from the glossy images
of fashion than this. To produce clean, white wool for spinning all the unwanted traces of life
on the hoof have to be removed. That’s done in a process called scouring and its’ basics are as simple
as washing a woollen jumper. The idea is to put the wool through
a series of washes and rinses and what comes out at the other end should be pure fleece,
free of contamination. But with Australian wools
it’s rarely that simple as Doctor Brett Bateup
from CSIRO has found. (De Brett Bateup) Well Australian
wools are extremely difficult to scour by comparison with
say New Zealand wools. Australian wools contain far
more grease and far more dirt. Australian wools are much
finer than New Zealand wools and the scouring of the large
quantities of grease and dirt present problems to the
Australian wool scourer. Now Siroscour was specifically
developed to combat those problems. (Narrator) At first glance the
difference between a Siroscour plant and its’ conventional
equivalent is hard to pick. They share the same basic plumbing and Siroscour can even be
incorporated into existing plants. But there is one big
difference and that’s been a direct result of painstaking
fundamental research. Using single wool fibres the CSIRO team
found that as well as grease, sweat salts and dirt there were minute flakes of
the sheep’s skin attached to the wool. [Music playing] As the wool was immersed in the water the flakes stuck fast to the fibres
becoming swollen and sticky. When large quantities of wool were scoured that meant much of the washed
out dirt in the cleaning water simply reattached itself
to the sticky fibres. [Music playing] The researchers found that
by adding soaking stages to the washing and rinsing cycles they could float off the skin flakes and the dirt and sweat washed
out of the wool stayed out. [Music playing] The difference in the finished
product was startling. [Music playing] (Dr Brett Bateup) This is a
conventionally scoured sample of wool and you can see that the
colour’s pretty dingy, the dirt’s still in there
and a lot of grease there. This is problems for later processing. It’s also felted, difficult to pull apart. Now if we have a look at
this Siroscoured sample anybody can see that that’s by far whiter and there’s not so much tippiness and
it’s not as felted as that sample”. (Narrator) By making premium quality
scouring available in Australia, Siroscour’s adding value to
the wool before it’s exported. That could boost the economy by at
least 25 million dollars a year. [Factory noises] Siroscour is delivering some
significant side benefits too. Working under license to CSIRO a Melbourne company has built
this full scale Siroscour line for the Danish company Bloch and Behrens. Here the flexibility of Siroscour
has really been a winner. Because each wool type contains different
amounts of grease, dirt and sweat, the optimum scouring conditions
for each wool type also vary. Unlike conventional plants this single
Siroscour installation can deliver the exact combination of cleaning cycles
required for almost any type of wool at almost the push of a button. [Music playing] Siroscour also tackles a problem that’s long been a bugbear
of the scouring industry, the disposal of large
quantities of effluent, the water which contains the dirt
and grease washed out of the wool. The new technology reduces the costs
of disposal by around a third and that can mean a saving of up to
$100,000 a year for the scourer. Siroscour joins a long list of
commercial developments by CSIRO designed to enhance wool’s
economic value for Australia [Music playing] but for researchers like Brett Bateup
the rewards are more personal. (Dr Brett Bateup) I really enjoy
my work, it’s a great challenge. To see the fruits of my years of research standing on the floor actually
working is fantastic. [Music playing]

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