Creating polyester out of waste CO2
A company uses molecular chemistry to transform pollution into sustainable fabrics
Spotted: The fashion industry is important in many ways, not least its role in the global economy. But, unfortunately, fashion’s environmental impact is as large as its economic one. Many in the industry are advocating for circularity and sustainability, and brands of all sizes appear to be heeding consumers’ concerns about the environmental footprint of producing footwear and textiles. Helping speed up the transition to a greener fashion industry is French technology company Fairbrics.
Fairbrics is seeking to replace traditional polyester fabrics with a net-positive version made from carbon dioxide. Currently, 60 per cent of textiles are made using synthetic, fossil-fuel-derived fibres – including polyester. As a replacement, Fairbrics captures CO2 from industrial sources, and combines it with a catalyst and solvent to create the chemicals in polyester production.
Those chemicals are turned into polyester pellets which can then be spun into yarn and fabric. The CO2 that Fairbrics uses is an incredibly inexpensive source of material. As well as directly preventing emissions from reaching the atmosphere, the process also further reduces overall emissions by reducing the amount of petroleum used for traditional chemical processing.
The company is currently scaling its technology with the goal of reaching commercial industrial production levels within the next few years. And in addition to using industrial emissions, Fairbrics is working towards a direct air capture (DAC) system to remove even more pollution from the atmosphere. DAC would help ensure the stability of the material supply while providing an important environmental benefit.
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Written By: Keely Khoury
26th April 2023