International Year of Chemistry, 2011

UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

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International Year of Chemistry 2011

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Natural Dyes from Caribbean Medicinal Plants

Activity by Sonia Peter   |   added on Jan 28, 2011   |   Barbados Official_iyc_logo

Sponsor(s): Barbados Community College, Barbados Fashion Alliance, UNDP

Selected plant species will be investigated for natural dye sources. The dyes will be subjected to a variety of analytical methods for chemical profiling and efficacy.

This research activity is part of the 'Mood Indigo Caribbean - Dyeing for the Blues' project that is being conducted at the Barbados Community College in collaboration with the Barbados Fashion Alliance and funded by the UNDP. 

Indigo was once of economic significance to the island during the colonial period of its history.  The project aims to revive the interest in indigo within the local fashion industry and the genral public.  In addition, extracts from other indigenous plant species of traditional medicine value will be subjected to analytical investigation including chromatography and spectroscopy for suitability as sources.  In addition, novel agents will be explored for the indigo fermentation process and as mordants for the dyeing process.  All fabrics will be of natural fibres with a focus on Sea Island Cotton, which is known to be of high quality.  Toxicity testing of the natural dyes developed is also planned.  This is in an effort to green the sector of the local fashion industry that is involved in textile manufacture.  

The research is being conducted during this semester which spans the months of January to May, 2011.  We chose this as a contribution to IYC because of the green chemistry that will be embodied in the practical approach and the green ideals of the project as a whole.  It is important that chemists take the lead in providing knowledge and informing the general public of the need to opt for environmentally safe use of materials wherever possible and to engender a sense of responsibility in students as we instruct them on the theoretical and practical concepts and applications of chemistry.   


Topic: chemistry education, hands-on activities, sustainable and green chemistry, analytical chemistry, art Audience: students, educators, professional chemists, general public, research scientists, teachers, women chemists
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