BST launched its first product after about four years of research and development, Foessel said. This product, Midori Biosoft, is used in the sportswear industry when a moisture-management agent needs to be in the clothing. This would be applied, for example, in sportswear worn in cycling or running.
This technology is basically a bio-based wicking (moisture management) agent that could match the performance of those synthetic crude-oil based materials currently being used, Foessel said. One brand the company works with is adidas.
The launch of the Midori Biosoft was the company's breakthrough, he said. Not only did the company set out to create these bio-based textile finishes, but with this product, it also was able to prove it could.
The firm was able to prove it could match the performance of synthetic-based materials, he said, and then implement that for brands around the world for their products.
It's been used for more than two years, proving to the firm that it works. According to the company website, this product meets wicking performance standards of leading global sportswear brands and is also USDA certified as a bio-based product.
Midori Biolink was the second technology that came along. It is a formaldehyde-free crosslinking product used in denim. The product is a natural-based formaldehyde-alternative compared with conventional glyoxal-based resins typically used in denim finishes.
While Foessel said the company works with many smaller brands with this technology, its biggest partner is Levi's.
While Patagonia takes an interest in the company's third product, the Midori Evopel, BST's contact with Patagonia already was established because of these two previous technologies.
Foessel said he first spoke with Patagonia and discussed the Midori Biosoft and Midori Biolink as well as the companies overall approach to business.
“I think they stand out as a leader of reducing their impact of the environment,” he said about Patagonia.
Foessel added it was quite a “refreshing experience” working with Patagonia because the companies were working along such similar lines.
The two companies then began discussing the possibility of a replacement of perfluorinated chemicals with durable water-repellent materials.
This was important for Patagonia as well, he said, but the funding Patagonia invested in BST goes beyond any one project, and contributes to their overall approach of reducing the impact of textile finishes on environment.
“Every technology that we can bring that helps us of getting toward that goal is seen as positive by Patagonia,” he said.
Midori Evopel is BST's durable water-repellent. Foessel said that with the perfluorinated chemicals being used as a water and oil repellent, it has an inherent impurity. The chemical perfluorooctanoic acid is the impurity in the PFC and causes developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals, according to the EPA.
From a performance perspective, the problem with DWRs is that they do not perform as well as products that have PFC both from a durability and a water repellent standpoint.
While the goal is to create a material on par with PFC materials, the industry is not there yet, Foessel said. However, BST does believe that the Midori Evopel is as good as other DWR alternatives in the market.
“Currently, our product is 50-60 percent bio-based,” Foessel said, which is quite high for the DRW technologies in the market, but “it's not at a level we would like to have it.”
The reason why BST has called this product “Evopel” and not “Biopel” is because it's evolutionary. One day, the company hopes to be able to have a material that can compete in the market, with more than 75 percent bio-based content. Internally, that is where BST sets the benchmark for its “Bio”-named product. The Evopel product is currently 50-60 percent bio-based.
The first few entries into this Science & Sports blog series have detailed fundamentals of what the rubber and plastics industries contribute to the world of sports. This has been an educational look at how these industries not only can shape safety from a padding and helmet standpoint in sports, but also how they use chemicals and materials as well.