High crystallinity leads to low hydrophilicity of fabric made of (poly(ethylene terephthalate)) fibers (PET) causing problems in finishing, washing, and dyeing processes. To improve these properties, the surface of PET fibers is usually modified by hydrolysis. Alkaline hydrolysis is a conventional process usually performed at a temperature higher than 100 °C for more than 1 h. However, the use of strong alkali and high processing temperatures (>100 °C) can lead to fabric damage and a negative impact on the environment. Therefore, in this paper, the possibility of hydrolysis of the PET fibers in the fabric in a sustainable, energy-efficient process was researched. The influence of low temperature (60–100 °C) and an accelerator (a cationic surfactant HDTMAC) to PET alkaline hydrolysis was studied through weight loss, the loss in breaking force, and fiber morphology. The kinetics of PET dissolution in 1.5 mol cm−3
NaOH at low temperature with and without the addition of HDTMAC was determined and the activation energy was calculated according to the theoretical model. It has been confirmed that PET hydrolysis can be carried out in 1.5 mol cm−3
NaOH with the addition of HDTMAC as an accelerator at 80 °C for 10 min. This process is more economically and energetically acceptable than the conventional process, and is therefore more sustainable.
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