Worldwide recommendation by Belfast Mini-Mills, PEI, Canada:
“We use Power Scour at our mill -- it does a great job of cleaning our mohair, wools and alpaca. And we use about 10 - 15 times less to do the job! This makes it a very cost-effective option.”
Research and formulation of Unicorn Power Scour, Fibre Wash & Fibre Rinse products have achieved our goals of providing optimized scour chemistry to maximize cleaning at low temperatures – while imparting fiber protection and conditioning for ease of handling and processing of natural fibers. Furthermore, the biodegradable, environmentally sensitive ingredients have fulfilled our high priority for Earth-friendly status so vital in today’s world.
Current practices simply mimic wool scouring operations using high heat and strong detergents. Unfortunately, fibers without high levels of surface wax (i.e. Alpaca and Cashmere) are subjected to fairly harsh conditions that are probably not necessary, and may indeed be detrimental to the fiber as well as the environment.
Australia’s prestigious CSIRO Research Labs stated that “Scouring at reduced temperatures is of particular interest as this can lead to significant energy savings….” Reducing scouring bowl temperatures can also result in reduced fiber entanglement, which in turn can be beneficial in terms of maximizing processing yields. As stated by a chemist at Australia’s CSIRO Research Labs, Unicorn’s fiber cleaning products “could well be the solution to potential energy savings” and….“even small increases in top length can be worth $1m/annum in increased revenue”.
Energy savings realized when utilizing lower temperatures to scour: For example, rather than scouring wool in 50g/200L of water at 158F/70C, it is now possible to scour at 140°F/60°C which results in a 12.91% energy savings.*
If you were scouring Alpaca fiber in 50g/200L of water at wool scouring temperatures of 140°F/60°C to 158°F/70°C, it is now possible to scour at 122°F/50°C which would result in energy savings of 14.74% to 29.56% respectively. *Efficiency depends on the type of fuel used for heating and other variables.
We have completed our testing and analysis for raw fiber scouring operations and can make the following recommendations:
Unicorn Power Scour is designed to effectively scour the finest low micron fiber at working temperatures of 40° to 50°C (104°-122°F) and, with a slightly higher detergent to water regimen and modest 5° to 7° increase in water temperature, effectively scour higher micron wools which present a more coarse and waxier fiber.
“Power Scour” was designed and tested to achieve optimum cleaning with minimal fibre damage during processing. In addition, we have formulated the product to be environmentally safe and perform not only as well but better than typical alcohol ethoxylates while using cooler water temperatures.
The composition is an optimum blend of both nonionic and anionic surfactants combined with a natural source alkalinity package to provide a buffered bath pH for fiber care and moderate bath life.The products should be used at about one-half of initial charge concentrations and make-up rates as that currently being employed in fiber scour processing arrangements. It should also be recognized that water quality, quantity and bulk fiber cleaning rates will also play a role in the initial charge concentration and subsequent make-up rates. A certain amount of trial and error should be expected during start-up to avoid over or under use of the products.
Due to the rigor of current scouring processes, along with temperatures exceeding 70°C (158°F), a certain amount of inter-tangling and stress can be imparted to natural fiber, especially to high-end luxury fiber with little wax, i.e., alpaca, cashmere, qiviut, bison, angora. This invariably leads to matting/felting, breaks and frays resulting in damaged fibers and consequent reduced fiber yield. To improve the end quality of the scoured fiber we sought to achieve cleaning at the lowest possible bowl temperature. Our studies indicate that excellent cleaning for wool and mohair can be achieved in the temperature range of 60°C (140°F) and for the non-oily/waxy fibres in the temperature range of 50°C (122°F). Lower temperatures for less oily/waxy fiber upper range for heavier oily/waxy fiber.