Textile impregnation by means of supercritical fluids allows creating new added value products such as gauzes and bandages with multifunctional active properties for skin care in an economically feasible and sustainable way. The COSMETOSUP II project, through the collaboration of AINIA and AITEX, has applied the advantages of supercritical CO2 to achieve in the same process both the extraction of bio-active compounds from natural raw matters such as rosemary and rosehip, and their incorporation to textile materials to provide them new functionalities.
AINIA Technology Centre, in collaboration with AITEX, Textile Technology Institute, has developed an innovative technology based on supercritical fluids in order to impregnate textiles with bio-active compounds extracted from natural matrixes. The use of this technology will ease the production of textiles with advanced therapeutic properties.
By incorporating bio-active compounds to textiles it may be possible to obtain useful materials to manufacture new products, such as, gauzes, bandages and surgical and hygienic tissues with favourable effects on skin daily care, wound treatment, burns… Nevertheless, the typical methods used so far make difficult a wide offer in the market (degradation of active compounds due to high temperatures, huge water requirements and effluent treatments, high costs, etc…).
Such a kind of products is made of a material called nonwoven fabric, that is made of fibres bounded by means of a mechanical, thermal or chemical method (without weaving). Nonwoven fabrics are used to produce clothes and high performing accessories, especially in areas such as health and personal care, because they do not fray, they present a great adsorption capacity, elasticity, impermeability, softness, fire-proof and shock absorbing properties, they might be washed and sterilised…
Within the COSMETOSUP II project, supercritical impregnation research has been developed in order to provide additional functionalities to nonwoven fabrics, a type of material that is used in gauzes, bandages surgical drapes or wipes.
This kind of materials may bring some benefits to the skin, for example, along wound, burn or irritation healing if additional impregnation processes are applied to incorporate functional substances with properties such as antibacterial, antifungal, regenerating, etc…
COSMETOSUP II, a Research Project developed by AINIA and AITEX with the support of the Competitiveness Institute of Valencia (IVACE) and the Regional Development European Fund (FEDER) has been able to gather in the same process the extraction of bioactive substances from natural sources, such as rosehip and rosemary, and their application on textile materials.
Supercritical extraction technology has been utilised to obtain the rosemary and rosehip extracts that has been impregnated in nonwoven fabrics using namely using CO2. The skin effects of textiles impregnated with rosehip were less skin water loss, what means an enhancement of skin barrier and/or dermal regeneration, and improvement of skin elasticity.
Supercritical fluid impregnation of materials involves numerous technological and environmental advantages: the impregnated material is trace-free since the solvent used, that is CO2, does not remain in the material the non-impregnated bioactive excess stays unmodified and therefore, recoverable; the process posses high yields, since supercritical CO2 penetrates better in the matrix of the treated material; the solvent power of this technique can be tuned, so impregnation rate can be adjusted for different products; and it offers an environmental advantage as no contaminant emissions needing waste treatment are produced since no aqueous or organic solvents are used.
Against traditional impregnation methods, impregnation with supercritical CO2 rises as a technological solution with a great potential. It presents no water consumption, maximum leverage of active compounds, moderate energetic cost and economic competitiveness. For these reasons, this technology appears as an attractive alternative with real chances of industrial scale feasibility for functionalizing textile fabrics, nonweaved fabrics and other textile materials.
This technique, beyond medical and pharmaceutical sectors, offers many possibilities to cosmetic and textile enterprises, since it is a novel route for obtaining new products impregnated with active compounds gradually released over different parts of the epidermis and that have various functionalities and health benefits. As examples, it may be applied to generate products such as gauzes, compressive bandages, wipes, etc… with several skin effects such as moisturisation, regeneration, elasticity and resilience improvement, muscular relaxation, blood supply activation, healing capacity, among others.