Allied Feather + Down has developed a chemical-free, fast-drying down insulation that is said to retain performance and reduce energy consumption.

The new Expedry has been developed with Fuze Biotech, and is available to all Allied partner brands.

The technology helps reduce drying times while minimising performance issues in wet weather by using non-ionic, permanently bonded gold nanoparticles in the down cluster. The particles work to increase the evaporation rate of water at a molecular level, without the need for heat.

Current Durable Water Repellent (DWR) treatments for down act as a hydrophobic agent allowing water to bead, keeping the down clusters drier for longer. However, once saturated, DWR treatments have no ability to accelerate drying.

Expedry, meanwhile, has an increased evaporation rate, and has been tested to dry 40% to 60% faster than untreated down, the company says. This makes it significantly easier and faster to fully dry a jacket in traditional and condenser dryers. It also helps down products air dry faster between uses in wet environments.

"This project has been at the top of our priorities and in development for years," says Daniel Uretsky, president of Los Angeles-based Allied Feather + Down. "Not because it might help someone summit an 8,000-metre peak faster, but because it will make down more accessible to more people.

"We almost thought the project impossible until our partnership with Fuze. Using their incredibly knowledgeable and unique approach to innovation and dedication to sustainability, we are finally able to realise our quick-drying product. This is a potential game changer for the European market that relies on condenser dryers, which have always made down difficult to care for and dry properly."

In long-term exposure in wet climates such as extreme through-hikes and long expeditions, loss of warmth is primarily due to the build up of fungus and the loss of loft due to direct exposure to water. Expedry treated down dries faster, facilitating an evaporation rate greater than the absorption rate, creating a continually dry environment inhospitable to fungus.

Andrew Peterson, chief technology officer of Fuze Biotech, adds: "Working with Allied on long-term sustainability goals and other product developments allowed us to come across an interesting new area of study where we find that gold nanoparticles significantly increase the evaporation rate of water. This technology has implications that extend far beyond the apparel industry."