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Nontoxic Flame Retardants from Whey

Whey is generally a waste byproduct from cheese- and yogurt-making. Producers need to find ways to dispose of it, and often it is discharged into wastewater systems. Research at the Polytechnic University of Turin is being done to explore the use of whey as a replacement for toxic compounds used as flame retardants.

Treated fabrics are kept from burning as readily because the casein from whey forms a layer of char on the surface when it is exposed to heat, which prevents the fire from spreading as readily. Tests on cotton and polyester materials often self-extinguished, and tests on cotton-polyester were also inhibited and burned more slowly.

While the tests have been promising, the process is not yet ready for commercialization because "the cheese-treated fabrics stink." But, if the compounds that cause the odor can be removed, this can be a technology to remove more harmful chemicals from common use and make use of a waste product at the same time. And, it could give the word "cheesecloth" a whole new meaning.

image: CC BY-SA 3.0 by Oscar/Wikimedia Commons

via: Environmental Building News

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Comments (3)Add Comment
Whey-ing In
written by Enviro Equipment Blog, April 04, 2014
In addition to using it as a flame retardant, whey is also an effective and eco-friendly deicer on roads (Source:
written by Sarah, April 06, 2014
I for one don't want to wear clothes that are covered in cow secretions. Eeew.
written by dan, May 07, 2014
would be sad if the peta people and vegans of the world held back a product like this. let's get back to common sense. that's gonna mean changing ideologies on all sides of the spectrum.

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