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Foam dyeing process cuts water and chemicals in denim production

By Scott Jenkins |

Indigo Mill Designs[/caption] Foam dyeing, a new technology for dyeing cotton yarn that is being applied to denim production for the first time, eliminates the use of several chemicals and can reduce water use by up to 90% compared to traditional dyeing. The foam-dyeing process, known as IndigoZERO, was developed at the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute at Texas Tech University (Lubbock; www.texastech.edu) and is being commercialized by Indigo Mill Designs LLC (IMD; Greensboro, N.C.; www.indigomilldesigns.com). Traditional dyeing of denim involves dye baths, in which the indigo dye is treated with a reducing agent (sodium hydrosulfite) and pH-adjusting sodium hydroxide to render it soluble in water. The cotton yarns used for making denim are dipped continuously as ropes into the baths, and then removed and exposed to air in a step called skying to oxidize the indigo back into its raw form to color the yarn. Making denim typically requires six or more dip-and-skye cycles and several rinses, all of which require substantial amounts water, which then must be treated. The foam-dyeing process, on the other hand, uses surfactants to generate an aqueous dye-containing foam, which is then pushed into intimate contact with cotton yarn…
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