fluorinated acrylate polymers are a key DWR technology. A global focus on persistent long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids due to their PB&T properties has led to global action by manufacturers and regulators to eliminate these substances and others that may degrade to form them. New technologies are being assessed for their PB&T properties and have shown that they are better, e.g., not B. A fertile dialog about how to best use products to minimize environmental impacts has led to a strong dialog around and focus on best practices to accomplish this. Third party assessors like bluesign® are providing valuable independent views to guide selection and practice.
Bob - thanks for the thoughtful reply. What the DWR example demonstrates, as some other chemical/functional challenges demonstrate, is the need for greater supply chain collaboration about solutions that meet product/performance needs while reducing potential impacts. Can you comment on the DWR supply chain discussions and lessons learned that could help inform other challenges such as that of DWRs.
Is the challenge of scaling up disruptive innovations a factor in industry preferring to select similar chemistries such as short-chain perfluorinated chemicals chemicals vs. entirely different technologies? How do you manage that change without settling for "regrettable substitutions"?
Hi Alex, great question. Patagonia outlines its DWR stance and efforts here: The Cleanest Line: Our DWR Problem [Updated]
In short, DWR performance must be evaluated as close to the end use as possible for its quality and performance. Currently, Patagonia's evaluations have not uncovered a suitable candidate for the most technical outerwear applications, although some of the existing and new chemistries may be suitable for applications with different performance requirements.
In addition to the simple adoption or nomination of a chemistry, there are significant supply chain hurdles in changing chemical ingredients. Brands must spend the time and energy to ensure that the performance they specify is being met and supported by diligent production partners.
Yes, I am also interested in if nanoscale structural technologies for water repellency have made it out of the research lab and begun to scale? Is anyone looking explicitly at non-chemical approaches?
We have to remember that we are dealing with chemical mixtures that are added to the fabric in production. These mixtures are very complex in their composition and contain Everything from C4 to sometimes C14. What we have seen in our research is that these patterns of various chain length fluoro Chemicals may vary and additionally an undefined variety of fluorinated Chemicals end up in the fabric. Conclusively it is very hard to answer your question with this "real Life" perspective. If we look at isolated fluorinated Chemicals they represent different and/or similar hazards e.g endocrine toxic effects to a higher or lower extent. So it is not possible to answer your question in a specific way, sorry.
Concerning maintained C8 performance without C8 the only way forward from a scientific perspective to maintain oil repellent properties are to invent and apply new structures of fluoro chemistry, that can provide the same oil repellent performance as the current PFAS chemistry and that these new structures are scientifically shown less harmful to the environment and humans than the current PFAS chemistry. These
efforts are still emerging and not in any way close to neither pilot nor full scale production as far as recent studies in these matters are concerned.
Hi Monica! It is refreshing to see innovation continuing in the field of development and application of novel performance chemistries and textile finishes. Plasma is an excellent medium for treating high surface area, small pore substrates in a highly efficient manner.
Plasma treatment has been around for several decades and has been the subject of a multitude of research projects. Currently, scaling up plasma deposition to the volumes that a textile mill requires has been a big challenge!
Joel. My sense is consumers pay attention to whether their clothes look good or not, over time and in use. DWR addresses their aesthetic desires. Moreover, DWR allows for the design of colors that perhaps otherwise may not be possible. A beautiful light pink dress that is ruined by its first stain is a catastrophy. It all comes down to the consumer experience with a garment and the feedback brands have received over time. Brands who receive an avalanche of complaints for staining or getting wet respond very quickly.
Is the basis of PFC's performance in the electronegativity of the fluorine? Or what physically/fundamentally makes it both oleophobic and hydrophobic?
Renewably based raw materials are advancing in to the toolbox of innovators inspired by the Lotus Leaf. We see a number of commercial non-fluorinated DWR products that are said to be "bio-based." Biodegradability remains a big challenge. How to make a substance that is durable to laundering, abrasion, sunlight, dry cleaning and yet can "unzip" when desired at end of life. A great challenge for the molecular architects!