US Chemours gets award for biobased water repellent

Author: Al Greenwood

2019/09/09

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A technical fellow at Chemours will receive on Tuesday an award for his work in developing a durable water repellent that is nonfluorinated and made with renewable feedstock.

John Sworen is receiving the SCI Gordon E Moore Medal from the Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), America Group. Sworen led the team that developed the repellents.

Water repellents are finishing agents applied to fabrics before they are cut and sewn into clothes. They are typically based on waxes, silicones or fluorinated chemicals.

Chemours's new water repellent, called Teflon EcoElite, stands out because it is non-fluorinated and made with renewable materials.

"It is the first of its kind," Sworen said.

Increasingly, companies that buy chemical products want their products to be more sustainable. This could be in response to internal sustainability goals, government regulations or customer demand. Companies with valuable brands are especially sensitive to customer demand for sustainable products.

Regardless to what's driving demand for sustainable products, it's a trend that has been going on for several years.

It emerged in plastic packaging, with companies showcasing recyclable products at trade shows in 2015 and earlier.

More recently, the shoe company Allbirds is making footwear using Braskem's renewable ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) resin.

Chemours noticed a similar trend in textiles.

"The consumers of apparel and textiles are really looking at the question of improved sustainability," Sworen said. "We took that feedback from the marketplace, from the brands, from the customers, and we decided to produce Teflon EcoElite."

Chemours would not provide much details about the chemistry of Teflon EcoElite. It did say that the raw material is plant based and would be classified as a fatty acid polyester.

Altogether, Teflon EcoElite has 63% renewably sourced content, the company said. It is already being used by Colmar, an Italian company that makes ski-wear and other sports apparel.

Interview article by Al Greenwood