Cotton Incorporated and specialty chemicals company, Archroma, have co-created a fluorine-free version of Cotton’s Storm Cotton technology, which will be used as a water repellent in cotton outerwear essential to the outdoor apparel industry. The fluorine-free material offers almost the same benefits as the fluorine material, including water repellency, but with sustainable qualities.
Fluorine-free apparel has been a goal for many apparel brands and manufacturers to help boost sustainability. James Pruden, Cotton’s senior director of public relations, said, “There wasn’t so much a need for fluorine-free technology as there was a need for options. Fluorine chemistry has been around for a long time and is quite effective. That said, some brands and retailers have made commitments to reduce or eliminate fluorine chemistries, to better align with their sustainability objectives.”
There are two main performance differences between the two approaches. According to Pruden, a fluorine chemistry provides water repellency and oil release—or stain protection from oil-based sources—and is ‘recharged’ with heat from a dryer or iron. The fluorine-free chemistry does not provide oil release, but also does not require ‘recharging’ from the heat of an iron or dryer, he explained.
Lab tests for the new Storm Cotton material proved it offers both performance and quality, and can be duplicated successfully. Customers are not expected to notice any difference in the feel, performance or care of garments made with the new fluorine-free chemistry. This technology option is now available in the full range of cotton-based fabrics likes denim, fleece and twill, among others.
Though Cotton Inc. could not disclose which company, the organization noted that a well known outdoor apparel retailer has plans to introduce the fluorine-free version of Storm Cotton in select products during 2015.
Cotton Inc. is also working to create fluorine-free options for other finishes, like its TransDRY, moisture-wicking material for athletic apparel. Pruden said, “Preliminary testing has been encouraging and we anticipate it will be made widely available in the very near future.”