A new continuous fabric bleaching process that is not only more environmentally friendly but also faster than conventional methods, has been developed by US textile firm Innova International Inc.

Tests on the new procedure have been carried out by Cotton Incorporated, which confirms it reduces the time, energy consumption and chemical impact of conventional bleaching, while yielding comparable results.

"Our testing shows that the Innova process reduces typical bleach processing time by 15% to 30%; and water consumption by 66% to 75%," says Mike Tyndall, Cotton Incorporated managing director, product development and implementation.

"These improvements can be achieved using existing continuous bleaching machinery and require no additional capital expense for implementation."

The environmental impact of textile wet processing continues to be scrutinised, especially its use and disposal of chemicals.

But as Angelo Rizzardi, president of Innova International explains: "By using a combination of specialty chemistries and designing the processing sequence to be more efficient, it's now possible to produce fabrics that are of comparable strength and whiteness to those made through more conventional methods."

The process uses fewer chemicals than continuous bleaching, which reduces the amount of dissolved solids entering the waste stream.

And because fewer steps are needed to bleach the fabric there is less chance for error and off-quality.