Material ConneXion named Netherlands-based DyeCoo Textile Systems as the winner of the third annual MEDIUM Award for Material of the Year. Material ConneXion has cited the company for the development of revolutionary commercial dyeing machine technology. Its ability to use supercritical CO2 as a replacement for water is an innovation that will make enormous contributions in terms of reducing energy consumption, environmental pollution and pioneering water stewardship.
With climate change threatening harsher droughts and water scarcity for nearly 60% of humanity, water is critical to any vision of sustainability. The global textiles dyeing market is expected to reach $15.5 billion by 2015, and is one of the biggest consumers of water. In conventional dyeing, large amounts of water are used both in terms of intake of fresh water and disposal of wastewater.
DyeCoo uses supercritical CO2 gas rather than water to infuse fabric with color. Special temperature controlled pressure chambers force the carbon dioxide to act as a fluid similar to water (the supercritical fluid CO2) which causes the polymer fiber to swell allowing the dispersed dye to easily diffuse within the polymer, penetrating the fibers, and carrying the pigments into fabric bolts and dyeing them. DyeCoo is believed to be the first company to successfully apply the SCF CO2 process to the commercial dyeing of polyester fabric (the most used fabric in the world), and research is already underway to apply the technology to other natural and synthetic fabrics.
"DyeCoo's new process has the potential to significantly lower the environmental impact of dyeing. The elimination of process-water and chemicals are a breakthrough for the textile dyeing industry. Combine that with the reduction in energy use, and the process is twice as fast. The technology can also improve the quality of the dyed fabric, allows for greater control over the dyeing process, enabling new dye capabilities and transforming fabric dyeing so that it can take place just about anywhere," commented Dr. Andrew H. Dent, VP Materials Research at Material ConneXion. "We chose DyeCoo as the winner of this year's award because it embodies the direction that materials and processes are taking: sustainability and high performance."
The ten materials and processes are handpicked according to the far reaching results they can achieve and to Material ConneXion's innovation parameters which include: being a new process, an advancement to an existing material or process, technology transfer and sustainability. Significant advances in sustainable material innovation can be seen in materials such as Arnitel Eco which uses an alternative source for plastic and rubber products that can now be manufactured from rapeseed oil and harvested industrial oil. With equivalent properties to existing nylon-based plastics and rubbers,it has a lower carbon footprint and reduces reliance on oil.
Other honorable mentions, such as Eastman Chemical Company's Perennial Wood, are recognized for increasing construction capabilities, improving performance, and lowering costs in a wide range of applications-from furniture to buildings and structures-all while lowering toxicity and increasing sustainability. Cutting-edge processes such as DyeCoo's and PURETi are recognized for their significant contribution to the environment. PURETi, a photo catalytic coating based on TiO2 that offers an effective self-cleaning surface, reduces cleaning maintenance costs by 50% and reduces water and energy consumption, chemicals and labor.
From anti-theft wallpaper to thermo chromatic fabric, the winner and the nine finalists will be on view at Material ConneXion's headquarters in New York from May 21st until July 13th, 2012.