Wooden’ denim could cut carbon emissions of global jeans industry

Jeans developed by a Heriot-Watt School of Textiles and Design student, using a fibre made from sustainable wood instead of cotton, could be the key to cutting carbon emissions in the jeans industry around the world.

Dawn Ellams

Dawn Ellams

Saving energy and water

The jeans have cotton-like qualities but only use one fifth of the water, energy and chemicals needed to manufacture conventional jeans.

Dawn Ellams, a PhD researcher at Heriot-Watt’s Scottish Borders Campus, also used digital printing technology to create a stone-washed denim effect on the textile.

Manufacturing one pair of cotton denim jeans uses on average 42 litres of water and is energy intensive. Conventional denim production methods can also require up to 15 dyeing vats and an array of harmful chemicals.

Now Dawn’s research has identified several areas within the manufacturing process which offer opportunities for saving water and reducing carbon emissions.

She said, “The sustainability issues associated with the manufacturing of cotton garments are already well understood, yet the use of cotton shows no sign of diminishing. The research challenged the design and manufacture of denim jeans, probably the most iconic use of cotton. The overall aim was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water use associated with conventional manufacturing for denim jeans.”

Dawn, a student at Heriot-Watts School of Textiles in Galashiels, Scottish Borders created the eco-friendly jeans with pulp from eucalyptus trees

Dawn, a student at Heriot-Watts School of Textiles in Galashiels, Scottish Borders created the eco-friendly jeans with pulp from eucalyptus trees

Dawn worked closely with Jim McVee, Business Development Manager at the School of Textiles & Design, who was able to assist her with the development of the denim garment.

The ‘no-cotton’ jeans are made using Tencel®, a fibre created by man-made cellulose fibre production company, Lenzing AG.

Michael Kininmonth, Business Development and Project Manager for Lenzing AG, said, “When I speak to textile students I try and impress on them that sustainable issues are now at the top of the agenda of many leading companies within the textile supply chain.

“This newly developing business climate provides students a mandate to think in more radical ways and challenge long established conventional products and processes.  Innovation is the life’s blood of today’s denim industry and there are strong environmental reasons why this production route, if honed, might have a serious chance of being adopted commercially.”


JournalTOCs – Gaining ground as one of the most talked about ‘Freebies’ on the net

Helping keep researchers up-to-date with information that matters to them, JournalTOCs – the largest free and searchable collection of academic journal Tables of Contents (TOCs) in the world – is now available for license from Heriot-Watt University.

JournalTOCs Table of Contents Searching Engine for Journals

JournalTOCs Table of Contents Searching Engine for Journals

Academics, researchers and companies face increasing difficulties keeping up to date with cutting edge research; JournalTOCs pulls together a database of TOCs from academic journals and provides a convenient ‘one stop shop’ interface to their content allowing subscribers to access the latest research in their fields in a convenient and personalised current awareness service.

JournalTOCs was developed at Heriot-Watt University’s Institute for Computer Based Learning (ICBL) in 2009 with funding from the JISC Rapid Innovation Grants but is now an independent service which, this year alone, has agreed license deals with 8 companies worldwide.

Gary Price, Co-Founder & Editor, Library Journal’s INFOdocket.com said ‘….JournalTOCS is a powerful alerting tool for use by just about every online researcher. It’s also an excellent example of the work info pros are doing to help organize the web and make it more accessible and useful to everyone. What’s also wonderful is that using JournalTOCS is free’.

Free registration allows users to build a tailored collection of journal titles and receive email alerts when new journal issues are published. Customized versions for institutions allow for more functionality and are available at very economic license rates. This service is especially suitable for research, commercial and institutional libraries, and resource centers worldwide1.

To see how JournalTOCs could help you, please visit http://www.journalTOCs.hw.ac.uk

or follow JournalTOCs on Twitter @JournalTOCs

For more information on what Heriot Watt’s Technology Transfer Office can offer, please visit:


Funding for Heriot-Watt to support further industry collaboration

Heriot-Watt has received £1.18m funding allocated to the University to help to build on the University’s already strong links with business and industry.

The funding, which has been provided by EPSRC under their Impact Acceleration Account programme, is part of a £60m funding package announced made by Business Secretary Vince Cable and designed to help support universities’ best scientists and engineers to deliver greater collaboration with industry, bridge the gap between the lab and the marketplace, and help them become better entrepreneurs.

Impact Acceleration is designed to support the very early stage of turning research outputs into a commercial proposition, the ‘Valley of death’ between a research idea and developing it to a stage where a company or venture capitalist might be interested. It will also allow universities to fund secondments for scientists and engineers to spend time in a business environment: improving their knowledge and skills and returning to the lab with a better understanding of the way companies operate and the challenges they face.

Alan Miller, Deputy Principal (Research & Knowledge Transfer) at Heriot-Watt, said, “We are delighted to have received this funding which will be used to help support those trying to increase the Impact of their research.

“The funding will be allocated on a competitive basis to tie in with the University’s key strategic aims and builds on our £6.5m working with industry project which has, over the last three years, transfered knowledge and expertise to Scottish businesses, benefited the wider economy and fostered partnerships as well as creating 300 private sector jobs and supporting the development of 17 new companies through the Converge Challenge competition, run by the University.”

Launching the fund, which will provide a total of £60m to 31 universities across the UK, the Business Secretary said, “The UK’s scientists are some of the most innovative and creative people in the world, but they need support to take their best ideas through to market. This could be by establishing a successful, technology-driven SME like Space Syntax which I visited today.

“This investment I’m announcing today will help our leading universities become centres of innovation and entrepreneurship, generating commercial success to fuel growth.”

This investment will help Heriot-Watt to continue to work with industry and develop new technologies, some of which, as in the video below, has a direct impact on on people’s lives.

How Heriot-Watt School of Textiles & Design helps in burn scar treatment

Pressure garments have been used in the treatment of burn scars since the 1970s.  Staff at Heriot-Watt University developed the first scientifically established guidelines for their design and manufacture.

They are often custom-made from elastic fabrics by commercial producers and hospital staff.  Research from Heriot-Watt’s School of Textiles & Design has helped overcome the several problems associated with current pressure garment treatment.

Watch the video to see how Heriot-Watt University innovation is helping industry in their research and development.

George Davies delivers Leadership Lecture

One of the world’s fashion retail giants, George Davis, gave around 200 students a fascinating lecture on the leadership talents he has developed over his 40 year career.

George is famed for founding Next, George at Asda and Per Una at Marks and Spencer. He recently expanded his empire in the Middle East with his new kidswear stores, FG4.


As part of the University’s Leadership Lecture Series, George shared the experiences, successes and failures that he has experienced – and learned from – over the course of his career with students from the School of Management and Languages, where he holds an Honorary Doctorate and Professorship.

He has a special relationship with Heriot-Watt University since he founded The George Davis Centre for Retail Excellence in 2005, which he continues to support. The Centre combines the academic study of dynamic fashion retail practice with the delivery of research-informed programmes, tailored to meet the needs of the next generation of fashion retail entrepreneurs.

Annual Talk

George returns each year to talk to students. The main topic of his 2012 speech ‘You Learn more from Adversity than you do from Success’ (given on 23 October 2012 and sponsored by Diageo) focused on how vital it is for leaders from all walks of life to turn the adversities they face, no matter how big or small, in to successes.

George also emphasised the importance of values and treating individuals with respect and consideration and how this has helped him build enduring and profitable business relationships.

UWI Label – “Revolutionary Potential”

Today’s report on more funding for the UWI Label (pronounced yoo-wee) is a great step forward for a product which Heriot-Watt has had a major hand in creating and developing.

Inventor Pete Higgins hit on the idea of a smart label which would tell him how long any jar had been opened for, and therefore whether or not the food inside had gone off.  This would be indicated by a clear strip which over time would turn green, indicating for how many days, weeks or months have elapsed since the jar was first opened, depending on the contents, before finally turning red to show the food had expired and was no longer safe to consume.

Heriot-Watt has helped develop UWI's technology.

Pete Higgins, inventor of UWI, over jars with his labels attached.

Through Interface-the knowledge connection for business, UWI (Use Within) was introduced to Heriot-Watt in order to help advance the technology of the label and develop the commercial potential of the product. The collaboration received Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher funding, followed by  funding through EDTC and the Product Realisation Centre, and has given rise to an important and successful partnership between industry and academia.


UWI will revolutionise safety standards in sectors like medicines, aerospace, cosmetics and food and drink.
– Pete Higgins

This latest funding of an additional £250,000 from Scottish Enterprise’s Scottish Investment Bank, £254,000 from a US private investor syndicate alongside £68,000 from private UK investors, is fantastic news, and will help advance the technology.

Heriot-Watt’s role in developing UWI

Spanning two of Heriot-Watt’s Campuses, Edinburgh and the Borders, experts were identified to evaluate the problem, and undertake research into the subject to find appropriate chemicals. With the help of funding grants, Robert Christie, Professor of Colour Chemistry & Technology, and Roger Wardman, Professor of Colour Science, supported the company  in to identify a range of chemical systems which have the potential to fulfil the requirements of the UWI Label.

The next stage was to develop a working prototype to show to investors, and demonstrate the technology to investors.

Top Heriot-Watt University academic, Dr. Will Shu, was asked to collaborate on the scientific development and overall design of the UWI Label, with the aim of it becoming a standard feature on every food jar throughout the world

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