HProtex is an installation research project co-financed by the Croatian Science Foundation, and is implemented at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Textile Technology from 2018 to 2023 under the leadership of Assoc. Prof. Sandra FLINČEC GRGAC, Ph.D.

Project summary

The main project objectives are to establish an interdisciplinary research group, including a young doctoral researcher, and a Laboratory for Controlled Monitoring of the Crosslinking Process, which will enable systematic research and knowledge transfer aimed at solving the problem of textile dust as potential disease vector and cause of device failures in hospital environment. Fabrics made of cotton yarn (CO) and cotton / polyester (CO / PES) will be produced in order to investigate the influence of yarn construction, weave (plain, carded, atlas and its derivatives) and fabric on the textile dust generation before and after washing cycles. Conditions for cationization and antimicrobial treatment with quaternary ammonium compounds, ß-cyclodextrins with encapsulated antimicrobial agent and chitosan will be developed and defined in order to achieve resistance to multiple washing cycles, with the aim of minimal chemical and mechanical damage to the textile. With the establishment of the Laboratory the sorption of baths with antimicrobial treatments on fabrics will be investigated in detail, primarily taking into account interfacial properties (DSA30S) and in situ monitoring of the effect of heat on physicochemical changes (FTIR-ATR GG) in order to accurately define bath composition and process parameters to achieve permanent crosslinking. Changes in CO and CO / PES fabrics during and after treatment, as well as after multiple washing cycles, will be investigated at the crystalline, physico-chemical and morphological level, as well as surface analysis using FE-SEM, TGA, FTIR, XRD, MCC, GS-MS, EKA, SFE, CA, MMT, WRV, UV-VIS spectrophotometry. Newly developed fabrics will be tested on toxicity, and, according to the obtained results, their usage in the hospital environment with the proposal of detergent formulations and procedures for their care will be suggested. Finding and implementing new ideas will be directed towards entrepreneurship with the aim of economic growth and further research within the new project application.

Project goals

General project goal is to establish an interdisciplinary research group that will deal with the investigations aimed at producing particular woven fabric and its aimed antimicrobial treatment, to be used in a hospital environment, with the emphasis on resistance of the treatment to washing and care, environment-friendliness and reduction of textile dust generation. Related to general project goal, one young scientist will become a member of the research group in the course of project realization, will enroll doctoral studies at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Textile Technology, under the leadership of the proposed project chief researcher, and submit a doctoral thesis associated with the project contents.

The project includes establishing the Laboratory for Controlled Monitoring of Crosslinking Process, which will make optimization of the finishing processes involved possible.

The first research goal will be aimed at the manufacture of fabrics with reduced textile dust generation.

The second research goal is to investigate in detail physico-chemical changes within the structure of the cellulose CO and CO/PES fabrics due to cationisation and treatments with various compounds that produce antimicrobial effect, the investigation being aimed at obtaining durability with minimum damage to the fabric. In situ monitoring of physico-chemical changes in the fabric using the FTIR-ATR Golden Gate unit heated up to 300 °C, as well as the investigation of adhesion forces in order to determine resistance of the crosslinked coating using the Drop Shape Analyzer (DSA30S), will offer process optimisation aimed at defining milder treatment conditions (pH, temperature and reaction duration), which should results in reduced damages to the cellulose material and lower load to the environment (no toxicity, lower use of chemicals). Additionally, the usage of Moisture Management Tester, which offers dynamic 3D monitoring of liquids, will determine moisture transport, essential for defining the use of the products in the hospital environment.

The third research goal is optimising processes of textile care and recipe formulation, so as to meet the requirements of standard hospital care for fabrics used in hospitals, ensuring at the same time persistence of antimicrobial properties, with minimum fabric damage and minimal amount of textile dust generated.
The fourth scientific goal is to carry out detailed toxicological studies of developed textiles with confirmed antimicrobial activity that could find their application in the hospitals, by using in vitro systems to test the safety of their use. The aim is to test and determine whether chemical substances used during the development of textiles with effective antimicrobial properties do not involve any human health risk.

The fifth research goal is to prepare a new project application in the period from 37 to 60 months of the project duration.