Interview with Carmen Ghituleasa

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Carmen Ghituleasa
Carmen Ghituleasa
General Director
National R&D Institute for Textiles and Leather (INCDTP)
National R&D Institute for Textiles and Leather (INCDTP)

What major textiles and leather research projects is the institute currently working on?

The major EU research projects for textiles and leather that are currently under way in the institute are:
I. Research centers of Excellence in the Textile sector  (RESET), funded by Interreg Europe with funds from the European Regional Development Fund (FEDR)
Objectives: to generate a change  in the implementation of regional policies and programmes, to support policy improvement and capacity building of partners' regions, to develop R&D and innovation excellence in sustainable ways

II. Fate of aerosolized nanoparticles: the influence of surface active substances on lung deposition and respiratory effects (NANOaers), funded by Eranet Siinn 
Objectives: addresses the open question regarding the influence of aerosolization and of chemical surface active substances on nanomaterials (NM) 

III. Design and development of UV shielding materials (UV-SHIELD), funded by Eureka-Cluster, Eurostars 
Objectives: to create comfortable textiles for summer clothing with ultraviolet protection factor

IV. Exploiting fungi potential for recalcitrant compounds removal from cellulosic wastewaters, funded by Eranet Cofund-Manunet III
Objective: Development of an innovative myco-based tertiary treatment for tannery and paper mill wastewaters, efficient in removing tannins and absorbable organic halogen (AOX), not depleted by consolidated bacterial based processes. 

V. Manufacturing of value-added textiles for aromatherapy and skin care benefits (AromaTex), funded by Eranet Cofund-Manunet III 
Objectives: to produce aromatherapeutic garments like sportswear and leisurewear, and skin/body care products like dressings and facial masks for microbial infections treatment and cosmetic pads for skin hydration, by using biologically active compounds.

The use of smart textiles is not restricted only to the apparel industry. What are the top five possible challenges while incorporating smart fabrics in other segments?

In their evolution, textiles have undergone several stages of development: functional textiles, characterised by properties according to a field of use; multifunctional textiles, characterised by a complex of properties that give the textile support the ability to meet various requirements; and smart textiles, used to build intelligent structures that can perform detection, actuation and control functions.

The main application of smart fabrics in other segments are:
  • Medical: monitoring, treatment
  • Sports and health
  • Personal protective equipment and military, security: deceleration systems, paraglides, recognising systems, flying rescue, survival equipment, autonomous platforms for surveillance
  • Home textiles

Leather was always considered a polluting industry. Recent technological interventions have reduced that to some extent. What more is happening in this segment to make it more environment-friendly?

Within European research projects, INCDTP participated in the development of a project on sustainable development of the Romanian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) engaged in textile-clothing and leather-footwear. The initiative promotes technological innovation as a tool for improving the business environment and increasing the competitiveness of economic agents. Sustainability is a key driver of business, so reducing energy consumption lowers the price of manufacturing, thus increasing the competitiveness of economic agents from the sector. 

Enhanced sustainability and competitiveness of SMEs could be achieved through an energy efficient production, using energy-saving tools and technical solutions developed in this initiative.

As a research institute, if we were to ask you to do some trend forecasting, what changes do you visualise in the textile and apparel industry?

Research takes place in a universe without frontiers. By looking at its depths and diversity, we find that textile materials and technologies are innovations that can respond to a variety of societal challenges.
According to Euratex, three major trends were singled out to shape the future of this industrial sector:
  • The move from commodity to specialty products in all stages of the textile value chain
  • The preferred use of fibres and textiles across many new and growing application areas and markets
  • The replacement of the traditional mass production concept in favour of a more flexible, customer-driven, integrated product development, production, distribution and service model
Euratex's future vision stipulates that by 2025, the textile and apparel industry will be a strategic EU sector providing innovative and competitive products enabling personalised, adaptable and attractive solutions, integrating services for very diverse, informed and demanding consumers and business.

What new fibres and biomaterials are researchers at the institute experimenting with?

For the advanced eco-nano technologies and materials, researchers are experimenting with:
  • Nano-structured materials and their hybrids, having photocatalytic effects or multiple interactive features, with self-cleaning, self-sterilisation, anti-microbial, anti-static or hydrophobic properties
  • New generation of fibres with content of PCM, Tocopherol,  ZnO, Permethrin, microcapsules with content of certain essential oils or other chemical compounds for different novel fabric properties like thermal regulation, skin care, health care, insect protection and stress management
  • Advanced materials based on metallic and insulating barrier layers for textiles with electromagnetic shielding, electrically conductive and dissipative properties
  • Collagenic biomaterials for medical application.

What are the challenges exclusive to the European textile industry?

According to Euratex, Europe's textile and clothing industry is a world innovation leader, but due to its small-to-medium-sized company structure, it generally lacks the capacity to engage in long-term transformative research using exclusively internal resources. To stay a global leader, it cannot afford to lose its thought leadership and technological edge.

How many patents does the institute hold?

The institute holds 109 national patents and patent applications and four European patent applications. (HO)

Published on: 05/09/2018

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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