Technology Mexico , Puebla, Friday, January 03 of 2014, 10:21

Volcanic ash touted as raw material for textile industry

Tecnológico de Monterrey Puebla Campus students and researchers show that due to its fine consistency and abrasive quality, volcanic ash can be employed to distress fabric in place of the most commonly used material: pumice stone

ITESM/DICYT Said Robles, Director of the Automotive Engineering Master's program, and Sergio Castillo, a Civil Engineering student, have developed a method to separate volcano ash components and obtain silica, cristobalite, and alumina, components of extreme hardness that can act on other materials through mechanical efforts like grinding, cutting or polishing.


Both researchers have shown that volcanic ash becomes a material of possible use in processes such as sandblasting, where abrasive materials are propelled against a surface under high air pressure to alter it. Their proposal is to employ this process on natural or synthetic fabrics.


The research project led to patent MX/E/2013/255668 "Adaptability process of volcanic ash as an abrasive for the textile industry", registered by the Mexican Industrial Property Institute (IMPI).


"Our intent is to offer new proposals for Mexico's 46 million peso a year industry in Mexico," Mr. Robles explained.


In addition using volcanic ash could be a feasible alternative to pumice stone, currently widely used to distress jeans in Mexico.


Mr. Castillo pointed out that distressing a pair of jeans today requires the use of 1 pound of 1-3 inch diameter pumice stones, while only 4 ounces of volcanic ash could do the job.