Indigo dyeing might now be significantly more sustainable.
A new collaboration between Italian denim manufacturer PureDenim and Israeli textile technology company Sonovia leverages ultrasonic textile application technology for indigo dyeing. The new indigo dyeing process is reported to save more water and energy and cut down on chemical usage compared to traditional methods, though the exact savings have yet to be calculated.
The technological viability stage is expected to be completed by the end of June, when the companies will start on pre-production development and integration of the technology into PureDenim’s production line.
According to Gigi Caccia, PureDenim founder and CEO, the partnership has the potential to set a new industry standard.
“The Sonovia x PureDenim collaboration is a fascinating one,” she said. “The concept of leveraging Sonovia’s technology in indigo dyeing can truly revolutionize this industry, leading to a substantial reduction in the consumption of chemicals, water and energy, and to an incredibly positive change toward eco-friendly, sustainable manufacturing.”
Applying its technology to the dyeing process is a first for Sonovia, which during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic developed the SonoMask face mask proven to be 99 percent effective at neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 particles and influenza virus (H1N1) particles. Formerly known as Nano Textile, the company was able to scale after participating in the 2018 Fashion for Good Accelerator alongside other innovative startups.
It is acclaimed for its innovative antibacterial and PFC-free water-repellent ultrasonic fabric finishes.
Indigo dyeing is ripe for disruption, as the industry attempts to lessen the damage it causes. Though indigo dye was originally extracted from the indigo plant, most of today’s indigo pigment is chemically synthesized, and not soluble in water, therefore requiring a chemical reaction called reduction. The process uses sodium hydrosulphite, a corrosive salt that ultimately ends up in the world’s waterways.
Earlier this month, Pakistan-based vertical denim supplier Crescent Bahuman Ltd. developed a new way of creating blue shades without using indigo. Its Blue Infinity innovation is part of a compact dyeing range requiring fewer dye boxes and less water, and results in less waste due to reduced salt effluent.
U.S. natural dye manufacturer Stony Creek Colors is currently working with Levi’s to scale its production of plant-based pre-reduced indigo, while others are using bacteria to mimic the substance’s iconic blue colors. In June, scientists from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology metabolically engineered corynebacterium glutamicum, a type of bacteria, to produce indigoidine, a natural blue dye that’s more sustainable than conventional indigo.