Cleaner Manufacturing Process to Produce Dichroic Films and Particles for Textile Pigments and Dyes

EPA Contract Number: 68HERC21C0033
Title: Cleaner Manufacturing Process to Produce Dichroic Films and Particles for Textile Pigments and Dyes
Investigators: Berg, Michelle
Small Business: NanoSonic Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2021 through August 31, 2021
Project Amount: $100,000
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2021) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Toxic Chemicals


The objective of this EPA SBIR program is to develop a clean manufacturing process for the fabrication of environmentally-friendly pigment particles and show how the manufactured materials can be used to color a variety of different fabrics and other materials.   NanoSonic will work with researchers in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Virginia Tech to develop and demonstrate multi-layer nanoextrusion processes whereby colored dichroic mirror thin films may be rapidly formed as large-area sheet stock. The resulting thin films may then be either applied directly to fabric or other surfaces, or chopped into small-dimensional flakes, surface functionalized, and used as an aqueous- dispersed dye or surface-applied pigment. By varying the thickness and internal multi-layer structure of the films, dichroic pigments across the entire visible color spectrum can be produced. Due to the chemistries of different fabric and other substrate molecules, different surface functionalization chemistries will be needed to optimize the coloring of different materials. NanoSonic will also work with a textile company who will serve as both a development partner and potential customer to evaluate how the materials may be used to dye their products, and with the U.S. manufacturer of specialized extrusion equipment to investigate how the dichroic sheet material manufacturing process may be optimized and up-scaled. The proposed technology to fabricate dichroic particles will not produce the harmful by-products resulting from some traditional methods of dyestuff production and will be amenable to a variety of fiber types and fabric structures. The dichroic materials will displace part of the current $33B global market for dyes and pigments, a market which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5 percent between 2020 and 2027. The primary users will be the manufacturers of dyed fabrics used in the garment industry that dominates the use of dyes and the consumption of water worldwide.