Wool powders with various particle sizes have been produced using different milling techniques. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) showed gradual breakdown of the fibre as it was progressively converted into powder form. Chlorination enhanced the effectiveness of subsequent air-jet milling. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) revealed an increase in the surface concentrations of oxygen and nitrogen, and a decrease in carbon and sulphur on conversion of the fibres into powders, as the cortex became exposed on the powder surface. An increased surface concentration of cysteic acid was observed for the chlorinated powder. Rapid uptake of dye by wool powders was observed in situations where there was virtually no uptake by the original fibre. Hydrophobic dyes were more readily sorbed than were hydrophilic dyes. The chlorination treatment led to a decrease in the sorption of acid dyes. Confocal microscopy, used in conjunction with a fluorescent stain, showed that chemicals were able to penetrate wool particles, even at room temperature. The rate and extent of uptake of dye by the finer powders were comparable to that obtained with activated charcoal, even though the surface area of the charcoal was 100 times greater.
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