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Dyeing Printing & Finishing

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

ColorZen LLC, New York City, has launched technology that eliminates the use of environmentally detrimental chemicals and significantly reduces the amount of water, energy and time needed to dye cotton. ColorZen™ technology involves the pretreatment of cotton using a process that renders the fiber more receptive to dye uptake, uses no 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, compared to traditional cotton dyeing technologies. The company reports the treated cotton can be dyed using traditional dyeing machinery, but the dyeing process uses 90-percent less water than is needed 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 temperatures and the entire process is completed in one-third the time needed for conventional dyeing.

The ColorZen process alters the cotton fiber's molecular structure to attract the dye naturally 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."

ColorZen's manufacturing facility is located in China. "China is the most prolific textile export country, and most of the negative environmental effects of textile production have occurred there," Harari said. In the future, the company plans to expand its operations to other locations.

Harari 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," he said.

September/October 2012