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Eco-friendly chemicals paving the way for sustainable textile industry

The introduction of white technology and inclination toward eco-friendly chemicals has revolutionized the textile chemical market.

Swati Tamhankar, Jr Executive-Digital Marketing, Allied Analytics LLP

From different kinds of salts to complex antifoaming agents, the textile industry uses unlimited chemicals. The recent development of the apparel industry owing to the rise in consumer demand and growth in population has boosted the demand for textile chemicals. Moreover, the emergence of the environmental friendly chemical has made several novel chemicals that can substitute traditional chemicals. According to Allied Market Research, the textile chemical market is expected to reach $27.560 billion by the end of 2022.

Eco friendly chemicals for sustainable textile industry
Figure: Eco-friendly chemicals should be used for sustainable textile industry. Credit: abhichem

White biotechnology in textile dyeing market

Dyes used in the textile industry are mainly to color the raw material and thus the product. Dyes can be either natural or synthetic and usually combined with water. Therefore, there is a humongous need for water in the textile industry. In addition, the insoluble dyes remain in the water, increasing wastewater.

To eliminate this problem, researchers found some gases that can act as soluble and can replace water entirely. With the use of high temperature and pressure, chemical dyes can be dissolved in such gases. The most effective and versatile gas to replace water is carbon dioxide (CO2).

Apart from gases, white biotechnology has come to an aid to reduce the water consumption and green gas effect. White biotechnology can be used in developing environmentally friendly applications. The most well-known example is using enzymes to remove stains from fabrics in textile wet processing. Enzymes act as catalysts and reduce consumption of excess water.

Moreover, it offers optimum temperature and PH and hence is easy to control in any chemical reaction. The biggest advantage that enzymes offer is that they are 100 percent biodegradable and eliminate the need for other chemicals and toxic substances that are required in a textile processing. This makes them the sustainable alternative for various chemicals.

Another part of white biotechnology is bio-dyes or natural dyes. The conventional dyeing process is greatly affected by the introduction of bio-dyes. The traditional dye may harm workers in the industry and wearers owing to toxic substances. To overcome this problem, bio-dyes can be used, which are cost-effective and eco-friendly. The majority of natural dyes are manufactured from a plant source such as roots, berries, bark, and wood. Such solutions changed the way of traditional processing in the textile industry.

Eco-friendly chemicals: the new way towards sustainable chemicals

Lately, dyeing and finishing processes have piqued attention owing to the emerging concept of eco-friendly and more sustainable garments and textile. There are several types of research about how the toxic chemicals used in textiles and the waste from its factories has led to skin diseases and respiratory issues among users and workers. This gave impetus to the increasing demand for eco-friendly chemicals and sustainable dyes.

Recently, Kripa Varanasi, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) published a paper in the scientific journal Advanced Functional Materials, reporting a new type of coating that possesses potential to replace the traditional harmful chemicals that are often used in manufacturing water-repellent textiles.

According to Varanasi, several textile companies claim to offer water-resistant properties but fail to meet the standards. Thus, Varanasi and his team decided to develop a new method that uses less harmful chemicals than perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) for protecting clothes from the liquid.

The traditional chemicals can remain in the environment as well as the human body, which the U.S. government has restricted their usage. Varanasi used a method called as iCVD or initiated chemical vapor deposition. Using this method, the scientists applied durable, short fluorinated polymers that are stabilized with a cross-linking agent to several fabrics such as cotton, wool, and silk. These shorter polymers do not pose a great threat as their longer counterpart and do not remain in the environment or in the human body. The leader of the study believes that his study has a lot of potential and application in future and numerous industries can benefit from this technology.

A large number of basic and auxiliary chemicals are used in textile processing that is toxic in nature. Such alternatives can reduce the consumption as well as boost the research to develop new, innovative biodegradable green chemicals.

If anyone has any feedback or input regarding the published news, please contact: info@textiletoday.com.bd

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