Low-Resource, High-Yield Reactive Dye Molecules

Huntsman netted itself a 2014 ICIS Innovation Award with its new reactive dyes and made a big impact on sustainability, providing an added benefit for industrializing countries.

Low-Resource, High-Yield Reactive Dye Molecules - Alpha Moment

Challenge

Producing Textiles With Limited Natural Resources and an Eye on Sustainability
A major requirement in textile production is water and many countries dependent on the textile industry also suffer from scarce water resources. Further, the chemical heavy processes required for textile production frequently result in water contamination, exacerbating the negative consequences for impacted populations. I describe it as abuse in the industry and the relevant authorities could have done a better job of managing the environmental compliance issues, says Paul Hulme, global president, Huntsman Textile Effects. What’s accumulated over the years is an environmental disaster with untreated effluent in the rivers, and untreated waste being buried.

The situation demanded that companies innovate, researching and developing new, more environmentally-friendly and cost-effective dying techniques.

Solution

R&D Drives Improved Reactive Dyes
Huntsman’s researchers committed themselves to the challenge and developed the first new reactive dye molecules that have been invented [in] almost 20 years, says Hulme. Most reactive dye molecules have only one or two reactive groups that bond with the fiber, affixing 60-80% of the dye to the fabric. Huntsman’s AVITERA SE dyes feature three reactive groups, which enables 90% of the dye to adhere to the fabric, considerably increasing the yield, using less water and with less runoff.


The savings… allow [textile mills in developing countries] to increase capacity by 50% for zero capital. Paul Hulme, Global President, Huntsman Textile Effects


Impact

Reducing Resource Use and Emissions, Increasing Capacity
The new innovation directly addresses a key sustainability challenge around water consumption. Using standard dyeing equipment with traditional reactive systems it takes roughly 100 liters of water to dye and finish 1 kg of knitted cotton (excluding pre-treatment and finishing). With AVITERA SE, only 15-20 liters are required – a huge resource savings. Plus, less salt and lower temperatures are required to enhance absorption, which reduces CO2 emissions.



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