The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project focuses on reducing the environmental footprint of conventional dyeing and finishing processes. This is enabled by the the significantly reduced level of contaminants, as well as the general sustainability, of nanocellulose as a raw material. Environmental and health concerns related to the effects of wastewater and consumption of water in the textile wet processing industry provide reasons for ongoing interest in the development of cleaner production methods. Nanocellulose-based technology uses cellulosic waste materials that would otherwise be discarded, thereby significantly decreasing the water usage and eliminating chemicals in the dyeing and finishing processes. This technology could help sustainability-focused companies to bring new products to the market and reduce their environmental impact.
This I-Corps project further develops functional nanocellulose hydrogels as a textile coating for cotton and blended fibers, yarns, and fabrics, with synthetic and indigo dyes. Nanocellulose coatings can be deposited on the surface of fibers, yarns, and fabrics made of synthetic and natural polymers for apparel, residential and contract furnishings fabrics, accessories, carpets, industrial, and smart textiles. Cellulose is an abundant natural materials that features sustainability, low environmental, health, and safety concerns, and provides biocompatibility. Nanocellulose is engineered, nanostructured cellulose, which is categorized as nanofibrillated cellulose and nanocrystalline cellulose depending on the production method and the overall size. Because of their low environmental impact, large surface area, and high reactivity, nanocellulose can be used as a coating and finishing alternative to the other chemically intensive materials and procedures.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.