Currently, many technical textiles are impregnated with a perfluorocarbon (PFC) based treatment to make them durable and stain (water and oil) repellent. Unfortunately, the best performing PFCs – known as PFC-C8 (from the eight carbon atoms in their backbone chain) – have now been withdrawn from sale for Health and Safety reasons – they do not easily degrade in the environment and may be carcinogenic.
The textile industry needs an alternative to PFC-C8 that equals it for durability, performance and cost effectiveness. As development of a solution will require chemical engineering as well as textile expertise, NW Texnet has secured funding for a consortium to work the multidisciplinary Repetex project.
The specific technological objectives are to:
Develop anti-soiling treatments with a fluorine content of less than 0.05% by weight on the final coated textile (compared to 0.1-3.0% at present) by using long chain hydrocarbon groups;
Develop anti-soiling treatments demonstrating no loss of performance after 50 washes, by covalent bonding between treatment and textile;
Develop a water-borne coating that can be applied to textiles using standard immersion deposition to produce a suitable surface layer without excessive loading.;
Deliver a solution that meets environmental compliance and cost targets.
The project’s aim is to create a solution that can be readily available to the textile industry. Current thinking is that this is most likely to involve nanomaterials derived by sol-gel processes. The partners contributing R&D to the project will be in a good position to secure intellectual property rights of significant value.