Get the “F” out
Waterproof textiles are a mainstay in modern life — used for outerwear, shoes, outdoor equipment, medical and military applications. These products rely on Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS), the “F compounds” to be water repellent. Unfortunately, PFAS is now known to be highly toxic to humans and the environment.
Nelumbo’s Mineral™ is a no compromise, 100% fluorine-free (no fluorine or PFAS), high performance breathable waterproofing solution. We believe Mineral™ offers the first viable option to get the “F” out of textile products.
Health and Environmental Impact
Initially believed to be inert and harmless, PFAS materials are widely used in consumer and industrial products for their durable water and oil repellency properties. Unfortunately we now know that even low levels of persistent exposure to PFAS compounds causes cancers and birth defects and that PFAS can be absorbed through food, water, air and even direct skin contact. This is bad news since PFAS are used in clothing and upholstery, cookware and food storage containers, cosmetics, firefighting foams, and more — they are, in fact, everywhere.
As the health hazards have become more clear, there has been growing pressure from regulators and consumers to displace PFAS from consumer products. The EPA is already rolling out a plan to address PFAS in the USA’s water supply; California and several other states are banning PFAS in food packaging; and Maine is set to ban PFAS in all consumer products by 2030 except in cases with no alternative. These are just several examples among many voices in a rising tide.
The Challenge of Textiles
Given these developments, there is an urgent need to find safe alternative solutions for waterproofing textiles. Yet replacing PFAS and maintaining a high performance, durable water repellent textile is an extremely challenging technical problem. To date, no fully PFAS free alternative has been able to achieve and maintain the desired level of performance in the face of normal wear and tear. Past approaches have mostly focused on swapping one PFAS compound for another variant, which has only resulted in lower performing materials with the same toxicity issues. It is increasingly clear that a truly new approach is needed to replace PFAS in textiles applications.
Use Mineral™ to get the F out
Built on the Nelumbo materials platform, Mineral™ is a binderless, structured ceramic surface modification for natural and synthetic fibers. Mineral™ is coated directly on textiles, has strong adhesion at the molecular level, and is flexible, durable, and ultra-thin.
Mineral™’s key to replacing PFAS and retaining performance is building a favorable texture at the nano-scale. This new approach to waterproofing is inspired by nature: nano-scale texture is able to repel water but remain breathable (and permeable to gases), similar to how water droplets are repelled from a lotus leaf while carbon dioxide and oxygen can still pass through to support photosynthesis. Mineral™’s surface texture can also serve as a porous base with billions of attachment points to adhere additional functional coatings, providing further options beyond water repellency.
Mineral™ is the foundation to join together very different classes of materials to enable a range of future possibilities. By joining the practicality of polymers with the unique features of nano-structured ceramics, we envision a future where semiconductors, photonics, and technical ceramics can be seamlessly integrated into everyday life.
If you are interested in learning more about the application of Mineral™ waterproofing or ice resistance coatings to your textiles, heat exchangers or other products, please contact us at email@example.com.