Water-free Cotton Dyeing Technology

Request Number REQ2364590
Due Date February 9, 2018
Author Jos Cenens
Request for Proposal Details
RFP Title
Water-free Cotton Dyeing Technology
RFP Description

NineSigma, representing PVH Corp. and MAS Holdings, invites proposals for a water-free cotton dyeing technology. The goal of the request is to implement or develop a technology that can eliminate the use of water when coloring cotton-based textiles & garments while providing satisfactory technical properties to the textile like color fastness.


Currently cotton fabrics are predominantly colored with reactive dyes where the colorants react with the hydroxyl groups in the cotton fibers at elevated temperatures. The coloring process and the rinsing consumes large amounts of water and results in large waste water streams. The waste water contributes to high environmental compliance costs thereby diminishing the competitiveness of the industry.


In recent years supercritical CO2 dyeing technology has come to the market. This is however not a suitable technique for dyeing cotton (or other natural fibers like wool and silk) because supercritical CO2 cannot break the hydrogen bonds in the cotton fiber, and the reactive and acid dyes are not soluble in supercritical CO2.  


NineSigma’s client has not yet identified a water-free dyeing technology for their cotton based products. They are very interested to find ecologically friendly technologies to eliminate water usage with the ultimate goal of a zero-discharge production process.


Anticipated Project Phases or Project Plan

Phase 1 – Proof of concept

  • Small scale trials on different textiles
  • Assessment of color fastness and wash durability
  • Impact on textile feel and softness
  • Initial evaluation of the environmental and safety impact of the process
  • Evaluation of the economics
  • Evaluation of intellectual property


Phase 2 – Scale up towards commercial use 


Key Success Criteria

The successful technology will:

  • Be environmentally friendly
    • Compliant with REACH, OEKOTEX, RSL, ZDHC MRSL…
  • Be applicable on cotton and its blends with other natural fibers like Modal, Tencel, Viscose
  • Provide durable color
    • Withstand over 50 home laundry washes
  • Not negatively impact the softness or feel of the garment
  • Be applicable to thread, yarn, cloth or fabricated garments
  • Be cost efficient
    • Meet current coloration cost per meter of fabric of garment


Possible Approaches

Possible approaches might include, but are not limited to:

  • Novel supercritical fluids approaches
  • Ultrasonic supported dyeing
  • Plasma based technologies
  • Vapor deposition
  • Combinations of technologies


Approaches not of interest

The following approaches are not of interest:

  • The use of toxic materials or materials that are not safe for human contact


Preferred Collaboration types
  • Joint Development
  • Contract Research
  • Technology Licensing
  • Technology Acquisition
  • Supply Agreement
Items to be submitted

To respond, please make sure you are registered in NineSights, as it will prompt you to log in. Then, use the Response options at the top or bottom of the page. You may submit supplemental files in addition to your completed response form.


Appropriate responses will use the response form and address the following:

  • Non-confidential description of proposed technology covering where possible:

    • Used chemistry
    • Application process
    • Type of equipment needed
  • Technical maturity of the approach (concept, prototype, ready to commercialize, commercialized)

  • Intellectual property overview

  • Team description and related experience


Other Request information includes:



Responses from companies (small to large), academic researchers, other research institutes, consultants, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, or inventors are welcome. For example:


You represent a company that has demonstrated a proof of concept of a water-free dyeing technology that is suitable for natural fibers

You represent a university research department that has a bench-scale demonstration of an innovative dyeing process

You are a researcher that has insight on a new approach that could deliver a water-free dyeing process



Area of Interest
  • Consumer Products
Request Priority
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