Supercritical fluids improve textile impregnation with bioactive compounds for skin treatments

07 July 2017

supercritical fluids

There is no doubt that exploring new renewable energy sources is one of the key topics for research centres all over the world. And nanomaterials might have a big say in this field.

Supercritical fluids improve textile impregnation with bioactive compounds for skin treatments

Impregnating textiles with bioactive compounds results in useful materials to manufacture interesting products with medical or pharmaceutical applications, such as gauzes, bandages, and surgical and hygienic tissues for skin daily care or wound or burn treatments. However, the current methods make it difficult to get the products in the market as they involve serious complications, including the degradation of active compounds due to high temperatures, huge water consumption and high manufacturing costs.

Now a new method based on supercritical fluids makes creating new added value textile products both economically feasible and a sustainable process. The novelty consists on applying supercritical CO2 to achieve both the extraction from raw natural matrixes and the incorporation of bioactive compounds to textile materials in the very same process. The solution has come up in the Cosmetosup II, a research project developed by AINIA and AITEX in the Valencia area, with support from the Regional Development European Fund (FEDER). Researches have successfully tested the new method with rosemary and rosehip so far.

Supercritical fluid impregnation includes several advantages: the impregnated textile is trace-free since the solvent used (CO2) does not remain in the material; the non-impregnated bioactive excess stays unmodified and is, therefore, recoverable; the process is more efficient; impregnation rates might be adjusted; and there are environmental benefits as no polluting aqueous or organic solvents are used.

This new option is showing a great potential: no water consumption, maximum leverage of active compounds, a moderate energetic cost and economical competitiveness. Researchers believe that supercritical fluid impregnation has real chances of industrial scale feasibility for functionalizing textile fabrics. Beyond medical applications, this technique might also offer interesting solutions in the cosmetic and textile sectors, as it might allow to create new impregnated products that would gradually release active compounds on the skin for moisturising, dermis regeneration, muscular relaxation or healing effects, among others.

C. Rubio