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Nike Gets Behind Waterless Textile Dyeing
February 8th, 2012
Nike could dramatically cut its water consumption in the near future with waterless textile dyeing technology and is encouraging others in the apparel industry to do the same.
The sporting goods company has entered into a strategic partnership with DyeCoo Textile Systems B.V., a Netherlands-based company that has developed and built the first commercially available waterless textile dyeing machines. By using recycled carbon dioxide, DyeCoo’s technology eliminates the use of water in the textile dyeing process. The name “DyeCoo” was inspired by the process of “dyeing” with “CO2.”
“We believe this technology has the potential to revolutionize textile manufacturing, and we want to collaborate with progressive dye houses, textile manufacturers and consumer apparel brands to scale this technology and push it throughout the industry,” says Eric Sprunk, Nike’s Vice President of Merchandising and Product.
Nike says it has been exploring this technology for the past eight years and expects to showcase apparel using textiles dyed without water at events later this year, with an eye towards scaling the technology for larger production volumes.
Benefits of the technology include no water consumption, a reduction in energy use, no auxiliary chemicals required, and no need for drying, which makes the process twice as fast as water-based dyes.
“The technology can also improve the quality of the dyed fabric, allows for greater control over the dyeing process, enables new dye capabilities and transforms fabric dyeing so that it can take place just about anywhere,” says Reinier Mommaal, CEO of DyeCoo.
Conventional textile dyeing requires substantial amounts of water. On average, an estimated 100-150 liters of water is needed to process one kg of textile materials today. Industry analysts estimate that more than 39 million tons of polyester will be dyed annually by 2015. Nike says it expects DyeCoo’s supercritical fluid carbon dioxide, or “SCF” CO2 dyeing technology, to have a particularly positive impact in Asia, where much of the world’s textile dyeing occurs.
As this technology is brought to scale, large amounts of water used in conventional textile dyeing will no longer be needed, nor will the commensurate use of fossil fuel-generated energy be required to heat such large sums of water. The removal of water from the textile dyeing process also eliminates the risk of effluent discharge, a known environmental hazard. The CO2 used in DyeCoo’s dyeing process is also reclaimed and reused.
DyeCoo is one of the first companies to successfully apply the SCF CO2 process to the commercial dyeing of polyester fabric, and research is underway to apply the technology to other natural and synthetic fabrics. SCF CO2 technology is safely utilized at scale in other industries such as the decaffeination of coffee and the extraction of natural flavors and fragrances.
Bart King is a PR consultant and principal at Cleantech Communications.