Project Owner: Brenda Mareri
University: Kenyatta University
Project name: bio-texrile
Industrial effluent from industries in Kenya are poorly disposed of and managed. The methods in use include the use of landfills, incineration and dumping into waste water streams. New methods for proper waste management are required. The waste and by-products from sugar industries, bio-refineries, sewer systems and other effluents in Kenya can be utilized as raw material for bacterial cellulose manufacture.
Bacterial cellulose is a highly crystalline and mechanically stable nano-polymer, which has excellent potential as a material in many novel applications, especially if it can be produced in large amounts from an inexpensive feedstock. Waste sludge, a residue with little or no value, originates from pulp mills, ligno-cellulosic bio-refineries, sugar factories and other industries can be used as feedstock.
Bacterial cellulose is produced by inoculating the waste sludge with the bacteria, Acetobacter xylinum which converts the waste into a gelatinous pellicle or material which can be harvested and dried. Upon drying, the pellicle is ready for use as a material for textiles without any further processing.
Bio-textile seeks to focus the market offerings on three major customer groups: Textile Industry, Waste management companies and local communities who reside near waste disposal areas and sewerage systems. Market research shows that these customers are the most demanding of the design, benefits and environmental safety that Bio-textile offers. The textile industry in Kenya is a $ 330 million a year business in Kenya. There are over 100 textile industries in Kenya.
The main competitors are waste management companies who chemically treat industrial effluents and sewer systems and Textile industries who manufacture synthetic materials using harmful chemicals.
With bio-textile, waste is treated and a commercially viable product is produced which can be used in various other industries.
The production of bacterial cellulose requires no prior biological or bacterial knowledge, it takes a short period of time to develop, 2 to 3 months and no further purification or processing is required. Locally available waste can be used and bacteria can be obtained from rotting fruits.
Marketing strategy would include offering free sample trials to textile industries and conducting surveys with waste management companies to prove concept of use. This will be achieved by direct and indirect sales tactics. This involves aggressively seeking new accounts, direct sales force, offering free trial installations and relationship selling.
The use of Bio-textile will provide local communities avenues to earn a living by selling grown bacterial cellulose to industries. This in turn will be a way for the community to find means to manage waste in the area.
The use of biodegradable material by industries will reduce the use of pollutants such as chloride complexes that are used to purify synthetic materials. This alleviates the occurrence of pollution and encourages the use of locally available waste to produce commercially viable material.
They type of funds required would be a grant to cater for the research activities required for development of the bacterial cellulose material.
The funds would be used for collection of suitable waste sludge, acquiring the bacterial culture and testing of the tensile strength and practical use of the product.
To ensure the sustainability of the Bio-textile, the material will be patented and royals will be collected for every unit of bacterial cellulose sold by customers who have outsourced the technology.
A micro-loan system can also be developed to assist locals with capital for the production of the bio-textile and repay loans with 10% interest charged and percentage of profits collected.
Eventually a manufacturing facility will be setup to manufacture the bio-textile material locally.