A new type of microcapsule may allow manufacturers to embed fragrances in textiles without resorting to formaldehyde, according to scientists in Portugal.
Using a polyurethane-urea capsule, the researchers, led by Sofia N Rodrigues from the University of Porto, Portugal, were able to impregnate textiles with limonene, a common lemon fragrance.
Environmentally friendly option
The polyurethane-urea capsule can provide a more environmentally friendly alternative to the current commercially available systems that contain formaldehyde, according to the study published in the ACS' Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research.
Rodrigues and the team prepared the limonene containing microcapsules by interfacial polymerisation, which they then applied to the textiles during the final processes of manufacture.
The microcapsules came in two forms, rough and smooth surfaced, which according to the scientists improves fragrance release.
In addition, the team noted that the capsules adhered strongly to the textile's fibres.
However, the fragrance was not particularly robust when faced with five dry cleaning cycles.
According to the results, a 24 per cent loss of limonene occurred after the first dry cleaning attempt, 57 per cent after the third wash, and 97 per cent after the fifth cycle.
In contrast, the fragrance was fairly hardwearing when subjected to numerous abrasion cycles - a test to evaluate the resistance of a textile to shock, stretching, rubbing and other mechanical forces.
Cosmeto-textiles - a trend to watch
Fragrant fabrics are just one of the many possibilities being explored by manufacturers who wish to capitalise on potential partnerships between the two industries.
Earlier this week Macy's saw the US release of shaping underwear impregnated with anti-cellulite actives that promise to slim the wearer whilst ridding them of orange peel skin at the same time.
Skineez Skincarewear similarly suffers problems relating to durability when the product is washed repeatedly. However, the company retails refill bottles of the active ingredient that can be used to top up the product's anti-cellulite action.
Cognis came up with the technology behind Skineez Skincarewear back in 2004 and at the time it was tipped as the next big thing.
Although the market is not yet inundated with such products it certainly seems like the opportunities for product innovation are endless.
Source: Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
2008, Volume 47, Issue 12, pages 4142-4147, DOI: 10.1021/ie800090c
Microencapsulation of Limonene for Textile Application
Rodrigues, Sofia N., Fernandes, Isabel, Martins, Isabel M., Mata, Vera G., Barreiro, Filomena, and Rodrigues, Alirio E.