Alchemie : Waterless, low energy textile dyei...

Waterless, low energy textile dyeing

Waterless dyeing technology Endeavour (Source: Alchemie)
Waterless dyeing technology Endeavour (Source: Alchemie)

More than 3% of global CO2 emissions are caused by clothing manufacture and is expected to rise to 10% by 2050. Textile dyeing is said to be the 2nd largest producer of global water pollution. Fabric dyeing and finishing is responsible for around 25% of global water pollution worldwide.  
Alchemie’s waterless dyeing technology Endeavour produces almost no wastewater and reduces energy consumption by 85%. Usually for dyeing of a polyester shirt about 4.5 l water and 0.17 kg of CO2 is used. With y Endeavour just 0.2 l of water and 0.03 kg of CO2 is used.
Alchemie Technology, Cambridge/UK, has developed a unique dye application system, that combines the benefits of inkjet printing with the robustness of spray systems. The textile is carried through the machine by a series of independently controlled rollers. The patented design dispenses dye at high speed and precision via 1,440 nozzles per fabric side. The array of nozzles ensures even dyeing across the surface. The machine automatically detects the fabric width; selvedge size can be digitally controlled.
The nozzles themselves are much larger in diameter than inkjet printer nozzles, eliminating issues with clogging and chemistry limitations. The Endeavour system works with the existing standard dye chemistries; it is not required to purchase specific dyes for this machine.
Following dye application on each fabric side is an infra-red array. This drives off water and begins dye fixation. The textile exits the Endeavour machine with approx. 10% of water remaining.
Digital printing systems for textiles only achieve surface level dyeing. Alchemie's system draws the dye into the fabric, achieving penetration at 50-70% of fabric depth.
Endeavour is a 2-sided dyeing system: the textile is inverted within the machine via rollers and a second set of nozzles then dyes the reverse of the fabric. It is possible to operate the machine as a 1-sided dyeing process only. This can further reduce energy and chemistry consumption.
Traditional dyeing processes require large volumes of heated water to fully immerse the textile. The Endeavour system applies the precise amount of dye required, and all dye applied remains on the textile. As excess dye is not applied, reduction clearing is not required, further reducing water demand. Eliminating heated water also significantly reduces energy demand.
The Endeavour machine can be supplied as a dye application unit only, or with in-line fixation and softening. Alchemie has developed a low water softening system to further enhance water savings in the production line.
If preferred, Endeavour and the softening system can be supplied as independent units, to combine with existing fixation technologies.

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