Photos by Amber Isabel
A Dutch company has unveiled what it believes to be the first commercial dyeing machine to replace water with supercritical carbon dioxide—a pressurized form of the gas with unusual liquid-like properties. Heated up to 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) and pressurized to 74 bar, CO2 takes on the characteristics of both a liquid and a gas, allowing for the dissolution of compounds such as dyes. For DyeCoo Textile System’s purposes, scCO2 is heated to 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit) and pressurized to 250 bar. Behaving as both a solvent and a solute, the supercharged carbon dioxide penetrates textile fibers and disperses the preloaded dyes without extra chemical agents.
LOAD OF GAS
Once the dyeing cycle is complete, the CO2 is gasified to recover the excess dye. Unburdened, the clean CO2 cycles back into the dyeing vessel for reuse, a maneuver that saves energy, water, and the heavy metals that comprise much of the toxic runoff into our planet’s polluted waterways, according to DyeCoo.
Once the excess dye is recovered, the clean CO2 cycles back into the vessel for reuse.
DyeCoo’s waterless innovation, which the company has branded DryDye, took 11 years to develop. Its parent company, FeyeCon, previously engineered scCO2 systems for industrial applications, including chemical extraction in pharmaceutical production.
The process isn’t without its limitations, however. DyeCoo is currently only able to dye scoured (or prewashed) polyester fabric, although the company notes that it’s working on a version that will dye unscoured fabric, as well as reactive dyes for cellulosic textiles made from plants.
Netherlands-based designer Fioen van Balgooi, for one, was inspired. Determined to show her fellow designers the potential that this new dyeing technique holds, van Balgooi conceived of the “No H2O,” a drapey, cowl-neck blouse that alludes to the rippling effect of water.
Fioen van Balgooi’s “No H2O” is a drapey, cowl-neck blouse that alludes to the rippling effect of water.
The garment, along with photos of the DryDye process, will be on view at the Audax Textile Museum in Tilburg from September 25, 2010 to January 30, 2011.