The coconut tree is known as “The tree of life.” Coconut meat, milk and oil have been widely used in products like suntan lotion, cooking, oil, medicine, water and air filters. In textile also, coir is very popular which is extracted fromthe husk of coconut and used in products such as floor mats, doormats, brushes, mattresses etc. Now, the finest quality of activated carbon comes from coconut shells to provide superior dry times, odour adsorption and UV protection on a wide range of product applications. The Cocona material is a natural fabric enhancer that is produced from activated carbon from coconut shells, which is infused into the textile fibre by Cocona Inc. patent method. The activated carbon is derived from coconut husks; it is a “waste” product of the water filter industry and is known since immemorial times to absorb poisons and odours. Activated carbon has a huge absorbing area — one gram of it has a surface area the size of two tennis court. This activated carbon is infused into natural fibres like cotton, wool and synthetic fibres like polyester, nylon, etc, which is then blended with other fibres to create performance fabrics.

History of cocona  fibre

Cocona, TrapTek LLC’s patented innovative technology that incorporatesactivated carbon derived from recycled coconut shells into fibres and yarns, hasreceived accolades as a natural, sustainable technology. The technology wasdeveloped in 2002 by Gregory W Haggquist, Ph. D. the Longmont, Colo. basedcompany’s founder and made its consumer market debut in 2006 in knitted cyclingapparel developed by United Knitting, Cleveland, Tenn., and Bethel, Conn.-basedCannondale Bicycle Corp.

Technology of cocona  fibre

Cocona’s outstanding features are due to the fact that the surface of the activated carbon has a pore structure. The pores absorb odour molecules at the sametime as enabling the moisture to escape from the skin’s surface and absorb into the sock more quickly than normal due to the large surface area. Yarn made with Cocona has a surface area that is upto 10 times larger than conventional polyester yarn.The Cocona technology imbeds activated carbon from coconut shells into polyester or nylon polymers. The coconut shells, recycled waste from the food industry, are burned at 300°C followed by a 1,000°C steam-activation process.The activated carbon is used for water and air filtration, wastewater treatment,and other such industries. The microscopic, ultra-fine particles that are too small for those applications are just what TrapTek needs to incorporate into its fibre and yarn

If you are keeping track of the unusual materials that have been brought into the sustainability race for performance textiles, then add coconut shells to your list. Based in Boulder, Colorado, Cocona uses activated carbon particles generated from the shells of coconut waste from the food industry to increase fabric performance. The approach has caught on, with the company website listing a number of brands now using their product, including Danskin, Mammut, Marmot, New Balance, Oakley, Patagonia, Rossignol and Timberland.

PRODUCTION OF COCONA FIBRES ;

Production involves the transfer of coconut shells (not husks) into activated carbon; a substance often used in air and water filtration systems. Cocona  makes use of the activated carbon particles too small for filtration use and embeds these particles in synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon. Activated carbon’s claim to fame is a large surface area created by the active carbon pores and a high rate of absorption. Because of the significant increase in surface area created by the active (open) carbon pores, the introduction of the activated carbon particles to synthetic fibres improves the evaporation time of the textile by moving moisture away from the wearer’s skin and spreading it across the garment. Duncan Edward’s of Cocona explains: “our patented technology insures that the carbon pores are open and therefore “active” at the end of the fabric manufacturing process.  Other companies claim to have carbon-based products but their pores are not open at the end of the process and therefore not active.”

The company uses the example of wiping a chalkboard with a damp towel to illustrate how moisture evaporates more rapidly when dispersed over a large surface area. These attributes are important not only for performance clothing, but also for other textile applications such as the fabric used inside running shoes. Rather than being applied to the fabric as a coating or finish, the activated carbon is made part of the fibre during extrusion, which means that the properties won’t wash away or wear off the textile surface over time. The high absorption rate of activated carbon also allows the textile to trap odour, a common downside to synthetic performance fabrics. Garment care involves drying with heat, which the company website explains is achieved when, “odor molecules are released and the carbon refreshed with the heat from washing and drying.”

Cocona fibre consider the rapid drying time and natural UV protection achieved without the use of chemical additives to be the two primary benefits of the product. The third, what Cocona fibre  refers to as “odour management”, is arguably its innovation. Some companies have returned to the use of natural fibres specifically to combat the odour problem found in synthetics. Cocona fibre seems to take a middle ground, applying their system to improve the performance of synthetics. Similar alternative fabrics marketed under the green bandwagon currently include bamboo, which is hailed as sustainable because of the rapid growth time of plant. The performance properties of bamboo viscose commonly found in the fashion industry are not remarkable, nor are its intensive production needs particularly green. Bamboo charcoal products are available, but explained by Cocona to be “marketed on a limited basis… as unbranded, unsupported commodities.” But the suggestion is that this alternative may come with production inconsistencies and a variable quality that a branded product such as Cocona can avoid for the client.

Cocona can be commended on their approach, which uses waste from other industries. In this competitive market it is good to see a little pre-production upcycling already at work.

Properties  of cocona fibre

The creation of Cocona through what is patented as 37.5 technology has numerous desirable properties.

  1. Dries quickly:Whether from washing or sweating, the fabric quickly wicks away moisture, so it dries in a significantly short period. This is because the pore structure of the active particles increases the surface area of the fabric. In fact, the technology allows the fabric to dry up to 92% faster than even recycled cotton – read more on recycled cotton here. This could also mean electricity savings for those who still rely on tumble driers in our current environmental climate.
  2.  Controls odour:Odour molecules are absorbed by the pores of the fabric. The molecules are cleared completely when the fabric is washed and dried.
  3. Highly durable:Cocona fabric is proven to last longer than most natural sports textiles like bamboo and cotton, as the particles in the fabric are so wear-resistant. While it is near impossible to wash away the Cocona particles, micro-fibre pollution, caused by the washing of synthetic textiles, is a huge environmental problem.
  4. Protects from the sun:The fabric offers the skin a shield from harmful ultra violet rays. The protection can be up to 50UPF+ (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). The active particles also absorb harmful UV rays.
  5.    Wrinkle-resistant:This feature makes the garment look presentable even if it hasn’t been ironed. This is a great benefit for travellers.

Cocona fabrics offer superior comfort and enhanced performance in a variety of clothing applications. Cocona fabric provides protection from harmful UV rays;successfully manage odours, static, and moisture. Independent laboratory tests measuring the amount of time a wet fabric takes to dry at room temperature,fabrics made with Cocona dried significantly faster than other leading moisture-wicking fabrics including polyester (50 per cent faster), cotton (92 per cent faster),and bamboo (96 per cent faster). Fabrics made with Cocona yarns and fibres are inherently lightweight, comfortable, and easy-care.Activated carbon has been used for centuries to purify drinking water and to absorb toxins. When incorporated into yarns and fibres, it creates a fabric that provides highly effective evaporative cooling, odour control, and superior UV protection, upto 50+UPF (the highest possible rating). Because Cocona  technology is inside the fibre; it cannot wash off or wear out like ordinary surface treatments to fabrics. The researchers said that replacing synthetic polyester fibers with coconut husk fibers will reduce petroleum consumption by 2-4 million barrels and carbon dioxide emissions by 450,000 tons annually.

Uses of cocona  fibre

Apparel made from the fibre helps spread and evaporate surface moisture rapidly,making it perfect for sportswear, undergarments, golf apparel and other activeapplications. Cocona fibres are used in garments ranging from shirts, pants,shorts, outerwear, underwear, footwear, travel wear and tank tops

In terms of clothing, cocona fabric is made of coconut husks that have been recycled into activated carbon. When incorporated into fibers and fabrics, the result is a garment that dries fast, absorbs odor, stays cool and offers UV protection, which makes it ideal for sports wear.

Dr.N.N. MAHAPATRA

C.Col  FSDC ( UK),CText FTI ( Manchester ), FRSC  ( UK ),FAIC(USA)

Business Head(Dyes)

SHREE PUSHKAR CHEMICALS & FERTILISERS LTD.