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ColorZen Offers Water-, Energy-, Chemical- And Time-Saving Cotton Dyeing Technology

ColorZen LLC — a new company formed to provide technology that eliminates the use of environmentally detrimental chemicals and significantly reduces the amount of water, energy and time needed to dye cotton — unveiled its new technology recently at The Continuum Show, a New York City-based trade show that is focused on sustainability in textile manufacturing. ColorZen™ technology involves the pretreatment of cotton using a process that renders the fiber more receptive to dye intake, does not require use of salt or other chemicals to fix the dye, and enables the desired color to be achieved using half the amount of dye, with a 97-percent exhaustion rate of the dye onto the cotton, compared to traditional cotton dyeing technologies. The company reports the treated cotton can be dyed using conventional dyeing machinery, but the dyeing process uses 90-percent less water than is required for conventional cotton because fewer rinses are required and the water is recycled. The process also consumes 75-percent less energy because color is applied at lower dyeing temperatures and the entire process is completed in one-third the time needed for conventional dyeing.

The ColorZen process, which alters the cotton fiber's molecular structure to attract the dye naturally, has been in development over a number of years and has some basis in cationic chemistry, which offers similar environmental benefits. However, according to Tony Leonard, the company's technical director, cationic chemistry has not been successful outside of a laboratory setting for reasons related to cost effectiveness, complexity of the treatment and difficulty achieving consistent results, among other factors. By contrast, said Michael Harari, president, "ColorZen cotton can be produced on a mass scale at a cost that is effective, and most of the cost can be offset by savings in water, energy, chemicals and time, all of which flow to the bottom line."

"We took a lot from cationic chemistry because of the environmental side of it, and we improved on it," Leonard added. "We're looking at supplying a treated product that is ready to use with no concern about variations because we know how to control our whole operation. If we can control the dye fixation, we can control the product."

The company points out that although chemicals are used in the process, which has received Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 certification, they become inert upon application to the cotton fiber, and the treatment process produces zero discharge of toxic chemicals, or any chemicals. In addition, the minimal amount of water used in the process is recycled.

ColorZen has opened its first processing facility in China because, as Harari explained, "China is the most prolific textile export country, and most of the negative environmental effects of textile production have occurred there." In the future, the company plans to expand its operations to other locations.

The company anticipates cotton products bearing the ColorZen hangtag will be available in stores as early as next year. "We will now be able to offer brands, retailers, and manufacturers a sustainable choice for cotton dyeing that will protect the fresh waterways and reduce energy consumption," Harari said.

August 7, 2012

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