Graduate Student Highlight
Name: Sha Fu
Degree Program: Doctor of Philosophy in Fiber and Polymer Science
Advisor(s): Dr. David Hinks
Degree(s) you have: MS Textile Chemistry, NC State University, 2013
Where are you from: Zhangshu, Jiangxi province, China
What is your town / country like: It is a small town in China. Nothing special perhaps, but I miss everything there.
Why did you decide to pursue your degree at NC State University? I was majoring in Textile Engineering in Donghua University for my BS degree. Donghua has a partnership with NC State, called the 3+X program, which is an accelerated Bachelor’s – Master’s program. I thought this would be a good opportunity and it really was!
Give a short description of your research: I’m working in the area of green chemistry. Specifically, I am working on the mercerization and cationization of cotton fabrics to increase the efficiency of dyeing at the same time of improving colorfastness properties, especially for ultra-deep shades. I focus on fiber-reactive dyes, which are conventionally dyed with high concentrations of salt but still exhibit relatively low dye uptake. Our research has demonstrated that mercerized-cationized cotton fabrics can be dyed without salt and have near complete dye uptake even for ultra-deep dyeings, which results in much less electrolytes and dyes in the dyebath effluent.
How does your research impact the world? Unfortunately, the dyeing industry is one of the most heavily polluting industries. Unfixed dyes and high concentrations of other chemicals in wastewater may cause serious environmental problems and can be difficult to remove. If the mercerized-cationized cotton fabrics can be used, no salt and much less dyes are needed for obtaining the same shade on untreated cotton fabrics and almost no dye is left in the wastewater after dyeing. The advantages are more significant for ultra-deep shades like black. With much less chemical and water consumption for dyeing, mercerized-cationized cotton provides an environmentally responsible way for obtaining deep shades on cotton with good colorfastness properties. However, the environmental impact of the pretreatment process needs to be assessed, which is another aspect of our research.
Have you published your work yet and/or received any awards? If you have published, please provide the citation and an abstract appropriate at the high school science level: Yes. I just had my first paper here recently: Fu S, Hinks D, Hauser PJ, Ankeny MA (2013) High efficiency ultra-deep dyeing of cotton via mercerization and cationization. Cellulose. doi:10.1007/s10570-013-0081-6
Abstract: A potentially environmentally responsible dyeing procedure for ultra-deep shades on cotton was developed using a cationization method in combination with mercerization. The effects of both treatments on dyeing performance and colorfastness properties of cotton fabrics dyed with reactive dyes were analyzed individually and in combination. Both mercerization and cationization have been proved to be effective in increasing the depth of shade on cotton. The colorfastness properties, except colorfastness to wet crocking, of mercerized–cationized cotton fabrics dyed without salt were much better than untreated cotton dyed using a conventional dyeing procedure. Unlike untreated cotton fabrics, the concentration of Na2CO3 in the dyeing process of mercerized–cationized cotton fabrics was lowered from 20 to 5 g/L without compromising dye fixation and colorfastness properties. With low concentrations of dyes and Na2CO3 and no electrolyte in the dye bath effluent, the dyeing procedure of mercerized–cationized cotton fabrics for ultra-deep shades is potentially a more environmentally benign method than conventional dyeing with reactive dyes.
What is your favorite thing about TECS / NC State: The thing I love most about TECS is the home-like atmosphere. The faculty and staff here are all very kind and always willing to offer help. The interactions between faculty and students are not limited to the lab and classroom since interesting activities, such as hiking, a welcoming dinner and tailgating, are often held here. The facilities in NC State are also very appealing such as the state-of-the-art new Hunt library. I and my friends really enjoyed studying here.
Who has influenced you most during your research here and how? My adviser, Dr. David Hinks, helped and influenced me most. He has given me inspiring ideas for research and taught me how to develop a research project step-by-step. I am impressed by his rigorous academic attitude and enthusiasm for work. He is very nice and has great patience with his students. As an international student, I had some poor English writing skills when preparing my Master’s Thesis. Dr. Hinks carefully edited every small mistake I made and the draft manuscript was almost full of his hand writing! I also appreciate the help and instruction from other professors and staff here, such as Dr. Peter Hauser, Mr. Jeffrey Krauss and Ms. Judy Elson.
What do you find most exciting about your field of study? I feel very excited when I know I can really do something to help reduce the pollution caused by the dyeing industry. Some companies do not enough about the environment. Our green chemistry research may push them to protect the environment if there is a new process which can save money at the same time of receding pollution.