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DuPont, Huntsman Partnership Dramatically Increases Yield, Reduces Impacts of Cotton Bleaching

DuPont Industrial Biosciences, in collaboration with Huntsman Corporation — a global provider of textile dyes and chemicals — recently announced the results of a case study that demonstrates the benefits of its Gentle Power Bleach™, powered by DuPont’s PrimaGreen® EcoWhite enzymatic bleaching technology. The study, conducted between 2006 and 2012, measured significant reductions in water use, energy consumption and chemical use coupled with notable increases in product quality and yield.

Portugal’s Acabamentos Têxteis de Barcelos (ATB), the nation’s leading knitwear dyeing and finishing specialist and one of the largest textile mills in Europe, introduced this technology to its facility with the goal of increasing performance while using fewer resources. According to the study, it worked; results include:

  • Measured an increase in production of 3,380 tons in 2006 to 4,409 tons in 2012.
  • Measured a reduction in water usage of 55 cubic meters of water per ton of fabric produced.
  • Measured a reduction in use of chemicals per ton of fabric produced: 0.55 in 2012 as opposed to 0.74 in 2006.
  • A significant reduction in energy consumption (measured since 2009).

“This case study is proof positive that through technology innovation and collaboration, significant sustainability improvements can be made in textile processing in high-volume production environments,” said Wayne Ashton, global business leader Home & Personal Care for DuPont Industrial Biosciences. “Global competition is stronger than ever and with Portugal facing seasonal water scarcity and the need to curtail energy consumption, DuPont and Huntsman delivered maximized productivity while achieving considerable environmental savings.”

Conventional cotton-bleaching techniques require a high temperature and large amounts of caustic chemical additives to modify and neutralize the pH range. To increase sales and profitability and reduce environmental impacts, ATB could not simply expand operations using traditional methods, and the company turned to DuPont and Huntsman’s unique enzyme-based bleaching system. This groundbreaking technology allows for low-temperature bleaching of textiles at 65°C in a neutral pH range with less water and energy consumed.

“The textile industry is undergoing a major push toward greater accountability and sustainability. At Huntsman, we believe that any product we develop needs to be both economically and environmentally sustainable,” said Steve Gray, vice president of Marketing and Strategic Planning. “The combination of Gentle Power Bleach™ and AVITERA® — our flagship and environmental award winning tri-active dye, not only helped ATB reduce utility and water consumption, it has a lower environmental impact and is a clear demonstration of how collaboration across the textile supply chain can make a positive difference.”

“In order to satisfy our environmental and economic needs, we need to respond to change by looking at our processes holistically. Sometimes, this requires us to have a mindset change and think out of the box to look for a total solution, rather than just changing part of the process,” said José Carlos, ATB Technical Manager. “Huntsman Textile Effects is helping us stay at the cutting edge of innovation, which allows us to differentiate ourselves while being cost effective.”

Cotton pre-treated with Gentle Power Bleach™ demonstrates a softer, bulkier, more natural handle with less fabric weight loss. The study says the system also delivers brighter color shades with a higher color yield and bleaches regenerated cellulosic fibers to full-white levels.

The textile industry is a mainstay of Portugal’s economy, providing employment and export earnings. Competition from low-cost overseas manufacturers and weak global demand has pushed other firms offshore or out of business. ATB, which processes 35,000 kilograms of fabric every day, has remained strong through the adoption of new, innovative technologies.

“Since our foundation, ATB has made the conscious decision to invest in products and technologies that will help us reduce water consumption while also increasing our capacity through right-first-time processing,” said ATB administrator Ricardo Mano. “To ensure we can continue to expand in an environmentally responsible way, we needed a partner capable of delivering high-performance products to address the challenges of processing cotton in modern Portugal.”

Earlier this month, Italian textile manufacturer Canepa announced it had voluntarily signed up to abide by the guidelines set forth in the Detox Solution Commitment, which aims to abolish the toxic chemicals currently used in the fashion industry by 2020. Canepa Evolution, the company’s research branch, has developed and implemented significant technological processes with its SAVEtheWATER®, Kitotex® and Methacrylamide-free projects, which help eliminate substances such as polyvinyl alcohol and methacrylamide from the textile preparation processes; has greatly reduced the use of bleaching agents and detergents; and significantly reduced water usage per kg of fabric to just 20 litres, compared to the 300 litres used in traditional technologies.


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