Water Free
Water-free Textile Finishing
The company participated in the tender jointly with:

Finishing Santo Stefano spa – Prato
In.te.c srl – Prato
The project
Project summary
Ideas behind the project
Economic validity
Realization of ionic liquids and their application
Application of ionic liquids on fabrics

The project

Research and development of innovative textile finishing performed with recyclable chemical vehicles without the use of water

Acronym: Water-free Textile Finishing

The application scope of the project falls within the PIS identified by the PRS 2011-2015 in the "Typical Production Systems and Districts" with reference to the Technological District in the Fashion System.

Project summary

In the textile sector, many processes require the aqueous medium for the application of products (dyes and chemical auxiliaries) to the fabrics.

This is because these processes are based on the concept of solubility in water of the dye or auxiliary and on its substantivity to the fabric.

The aim of the project is to use alternative solvents, in order to obtain quality (new performance) and process advantages on the final products, saving on the use of water and in part also on energy (think of dyeing which requires temperatures from 98ºC at 130ºC).

It is divided into 2 parallel design lines, which have in common the use of alternative liquids to water during dyeing and/or finishing operations.

Ammonia – OR1
Ionic Liquids – OR2

Ammonia project line (OR1)

Ammonia, in the liquid phase, is a product very similar to water with the difference that it has a dipole moment approximately equal to 80% that of water, which suggests that liquid ammonia can behave almost like water against ionic compounds and at the same time can present better characteristics as a solvent than less polar organic compounds. Furthermore, ammonia is a stronger base than water and this represents an advantage for the solubilization of acidic substances. Scientific and patent literature has highlighted attempts to apply dyes to fabric using this solvent; Hence the idea behind the project emerged: to explore a completely new field, relating to the use of liquid ammonia as a chemical vehicle for coloring substances in the dyeing phase.

Project line related to ionic liquids (OR2)

Ionic liquids are a very broad class of compounds made up of chemical compounds exclusively made up of ions and their combinations, but unlike salts they are liquid at room temperature even in the absence of a solvent. They have high electrical conductivity, almost zero vapor pressure and reduced operational risks (risk for people, reduced hygroscopy, total reuse). In the textile field, the application of ionic liquids for the dissolution of cellulose and the separation of the hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin components is known. Being polar liquids, they can behave like water in the solubilization of the coloring substances normally used. In this design line, not only will a completely new field be explored, going to analyze the interactions between ionic liquids and fabrics and their use for dyeing, but also a synthetic route of these products at an industrial level will be studied.


It will make a very significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge, as there is no evidence of the use of alternative chemical vehicles to water in dyeing processes on an industrial scale.

It will open new horizons for the possible partial reconversion of textile companies, thanks to the new knowledge relating to liquid ammonia and ionic liquids, which will be acquired in the project (think of their possible use for chemical reactions or in the treatment of other materials, from paper, to plastic, leather, metals, etc.)

It will bring considerable savings in terms of water, energy (in the form of methane and steam both in the dyeing phase and in the subsequent drying phase), economic and environmental (lower CO2 emissions) consumption. In delicate phases such as the one we are experiencing, the development of new technologies capable of leading to savings such as those described above play a key role and deserve particular attention from operators in the sector.

Ideas behind the project

Main factors

The current general context of the textile sector still foresees a long period of crisis which will only be overcome if companies know how to propose themselves at the forefront both in terms of style and technology, as well as respect for the environment and sustainable use of energy resources and natural.
The objective of aiming in the direction of using alternative means to water that are totally recyclable is in the opinion of ATI the ideal direction.
The savings that can be obtained will allow for a reduction in production costs.
The use of these new chemical vehicles will impart new innovative and particular characteristics and properties to textiles, significantly increasing their added value.
The knowledge developed through this project will significantly increase the know-how of each partner and at the same time could also allow for a partial reconversion outside the textile sector.
The desire to increase the technological production level therefore arose, which translates into:

in examining in depth the types of fabrics, dyes and auxiliaries most suitable for their use in liquid ammonia and ionic liquids.
in developing a synthetic route of ionic liquids useful for this purpose
in researching and developing procedures to carry out such innovative finishes from an operational point of view. For liquid ammonia tests will be carried out first on a laboratory scale and subsequently also on a semi-industrial scale; for ionic liquids only on a laboratory scale.
in studying the chemical, chemical-physical, mechanical and morphological-structural modifications of the treated tissues.
in comparing the fabrics treated with the new processes with analogous fabrics treated with the classic processes.
Key points

Primary analysis of the composition and type of fabrics most suitable for their treatment in liquid ammonia, from which will derive the first laboratory-scale solubility tests of the dyes and auxiliaries normally used and the first tests of application to fabrics using a small reactor purpose built.
Scale-up of the process from laboratory to semi-industrial scale, using a prototype created specifically for this purpose and subsequent characterization of the performance of the fabrics obtained, from which important feedback will be obtained for refining the process and for a possible comparison with the classic works.
Classification, selection and characterization of some ionic liquids potentially usable as chemical carriers.
Creation of a laboratory prototype for the synthesis of ionic liquids
Application to fabrics and their use as chemical vehicles for dyes and auxiliaries, with subsequent characterization of the textiles obtained on the basis of their performance and their mechanical, chemical, chemical-physical and morphological-structural characteristics.
Quality Control and Research & Development Laboratory

The research and development activities will be carried out in the research and development laboratories of the partner companies MASSIMO GUARDUCCI SRL and SANTO STEFANO SRL

Among the techniques used we find:

- infrared spectrophotometry;

- electron microscopy with edax microanalysis;

-differential modulated scanning calorimetry;

- high performance liquid chromatography with mass spectrometer.

Economic validity

Economic repercussions of higher turnover

The replacement of water with recyclable chemical vehicles in the dyeing and finishing processes will enable companies to place highly innovative processes on fabrics on the market that cannot be achieved with the classic production processes existing today. This will allow companies to enjoy a huge competitive advantage both locally and nationally.
Economic savings in the production cycle

Replacing water from the company's production process with recyclable chemical vehicles in the dyeing and finishing processes will allow companies to also achieve economic savings, as well as greater sustainable use of natural resources.