Denim Dyeing; Tech's FBRI awarded $470,000 Wal-Mart Foundation Grant
Texas Tech's Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute announced today (Aug. 14) that a research project was awarded more than $470,000 in funding by the Wal-Mart Foundation. The study, titled "Foam Indigo Dyeing of Cotton Yarns: Machine Design and Process Control," is aimed at reducing the amount of water, contaminants, time, labor, floor space and expense needed to apply indigo dye to denim yarns.
Tech's FBRI's research team is attempting to determine machine design parameters and process controls necessary for the foam application of pre-reduced indigo on yarns. By doing so, it could provide a more cost-efficient and ecologically sound method of dyeing denim.
"Wal-Mart has long been a mainstay of the retail sector in this region of Texas, and cotton has long been 'king' here," said FBRI Managing Director Dean Ethridge. "Now the Wal-Mart Foundation is enabling crucial developmental research into one of the most dominant cotton textile products in the world "" indigo dyed denim.
"Success in this project would reduce the water used to indigo dye denim by more than 90 percent. It would introduce a new paradigm for indigo dyeing that would enable drastic reductions in costs and drastic improvements in environmental impacts. Without a doubt, it would be among the greatest legacies of Texas Tech University's Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute."
In addition to Ethridge, other members of the research team include Noureddine Abidi, FBRI director of Biopolymer Research; Howard Malpass, an indigo dye consultant; and several members of American Denimatrix, part of the Plains Cotton Cooperative Association in Littlefield. Those members are Ralph Tharpe, Casey Bownds, Larry Griffin, Gerald Gohlke, Bryan Gregory and Larry Lundberg.
Through the use of foam application, which saves on water and is more environmentally friendly, researchers hope to make more efficient the process of indigo dyeing of denim, which is one of the largest cost components of denim fabric manufacturing. Indigo dye is a natural organic dye that has been synthetically produced and used as the main colorant of denim, particularly blue jeans, for more than 100 years.
"We're delighted that FBRI has brought us in as a partner in this important effort," said Tech's Vice President for Research Robert Duncan. "Coloring cotton is actually a very complex process, and innovations such as foam technology over conventional liquid-phase dyeing may ultimately result in lower process costs and hence a better value for the customer. This application of basic science to achieve better industrial results is exactly the sort of research that we intend to expand upon in the future."
Reporting by George Watson
CONTACT: Richard Zartman, Department Chair and Leidigh Professor of Soil Physics, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2838 or firstname.lastname@example.org