In a breakthrough with international implications, Down Decor, the U.S.-based supplier that created DownTek™ Water Repellent Down, today announced another breakthrough in hydrophobic insulation: DownTek Zero.
DownTek Zero is a PFC-free water repellent down that uses an innovative, nature-inspired approach to achieving water repellency without requiring the use of perfluorocarbons.
To date, PFCs (perfluorocarbons) have provided the best DWR performance for down. DownTek Zero instead uses lipids, an idea derived from nature, to coat the down and render it highly water-resistant.
“We’re acutely aware of the irony,” noted Down Decor principal Andy Payne. “In nature, the fats and oils found on geese and ducks is what keeps them dry. Those fats and oils are almost entirely removed during the washing process. For DownTek Zero, we’re using triglycerides similar to those same fats and oils to reintroduce water resistance back to the down.”
In recent years PFC-free water-repellent treatments have been based on paraffin, stearic-acid-melamine, or silicone chemistries, but DownTek is presenting the first successful new combination of natural triglycerides and fatty acids to achieve effective durable water repellency to down.
Payne said that in production testing, DownTek Zero is highly water-repellent, though not as thoroughly water-repellent as original DownTek. “While it is true that fluorocarbons perform better than a natural solution, DownTek Zero has been shown in independent testing to outperform untreated down by a factor of ten times.”
Regular DownTek will still be a staple of the company’s product offerings, but DownTek Zero is expected to fulfill the needs of partner brands, especially those in Europe, that are seeking to eliminate PFCs in their garments. Down Decor principal Daniel Guigui explains, “Europe is leading the movement away from PFCs in DWR treatments. We expect to see our European brand partners have a great deal of enthusiasm towards DownTek Zero.”
In an added ecological benefit, DownTek Zero, like its predecessor DownTek, is not a “bath” process, but rather a nano-level (one billionth of a meter) proprietary vapor process – which means almost no effluent or by-product washed into water-recovery systems. It is being manufactured in Europe strictly in accordance with Oeko-Tex Standard 100 (Edition 01/2014). It is not classified as dangerous per EC Directives (67/548/EEC or 1999/45/EC, as amended). Therefore both safety and environmental concerns have been addressed.
DownTek Zero can be used in all of the same products as original DownTek: sports apparel, outerwear, sleeping bags, gloves— anywhere consumers want extra protection against moisture and cold without the use of PFCs.
Gordon Wright: Gordon@Outsidepr.com
Logo courtesy DownTek