Climate-smart algae paint for textile dyeing

A bio-based textile dye made from microalgae could be the next step towards a more sustainable textile industry. Textile dyeing is known as one of the most environmentally damaging processes in the textile value chain. With locally produced algae ink and a resource-efficient dyeing method that requires less water, Mounid together with Wargön Innovation has sought and found an alternative to conventional dye for the textile and fashion industry.

The textile industry accounts annually for emissions equivalent to around 10% of the world's total climate impact. Of this volume, almost 80% of the climate impact occurs in production, of which conventional textile dyeing is by far the most polluting part with 23.5%. Textile dyeing thus corresponds to almost two percent of the world's global carbon dioxide emissions. It also requires large amounts of chemicals, water and energy. But we are moving towards a locally produced solution - an ink made from microalgae that is both non-toxic and biodegradable.

The start-up company Mounid, headed by founder Ida Näslund, came up with the idea of algae ink for textile dyeing.

- "I am basically a textile designer and in my work as a designer I think it is important to work with as environmentally friendly materials and methods as possible, which is how the idea of a non-toxic alternative made from microalgae came about," says Ida Näslund.

Pictured: Julia Ronkainen and Ida Näslund

Bio-based alternative to traditional textile dyeing

Within the framework of the project Algae ink for textile dyeing, the goal has been to introduce a more resource-efficient and resilient value chain for textile dyeing. By using Mounid's algae ink in combination with Imogo's digital spray technology, the environmental impact is significantly reduced. Water and energy consumption and CO2 emissions can be reduced by up to 90% compared to conventional dyeing.

- Most people know that textile dyeing is a very environmentally harmful process with a lot of toxic chemicals involved, so in this project we have looked at a bio-based alternative to textile dyeing and the algae ink could be such an alternative, says Julia Ronkainen, project manager at Wargön Innovation.

Approved patent paves the way for further development

The very successful project is now completed and the development of the algae ink has made several steps forward in its process towards commercialization. As a result of the work, a production unit has been developed that can start manufacturing the algae ink, an industrialization plan has been designed and a life cycle analysis has been carried out with good results. In addition, four prototypes have been developed in collaboration with the project partners - cotton t-shirts from Fristads, wool socks from Woolpower, acoustic panels from BAUX and cotton baby underwear from Martinson. A further success for Mounid during the project is the granting of a first patent.

- The work with the algae ink does not stop here! We will continue the collaboration with Mounid, new opportunities for the algae ink have been discovered during the project and we look forward to following the development, Julia Ronkainen concludes.

Wargön Innovation has been the project manager for Algal ink for textile dyeing and one of the driving forces in the product development of the algal ink. The project was financed by Vinnova in the area of Sustainable Industry. Participants in the project have been Baux AB, HejMar AB, Imogo AB, IVL Svenska Miljöinsitutet AB, Mounid AB, Sjuhäradsbygdens Färgeri AB, Woolpower Östersund AB, Miljösus AB, StromTech Sweden AB and Wargön Innovation.