AbstractA large US company is looking for proposals for reagents, devices, or physical processes or a combination of these for the modification of fibers without the use of formaldehyde. They are interested in licensing, product acquisition, contract research, proof of concept leading to scale up to manufacturing, joint development and supplier agreement.
DetailsFormaldehyde (CH2O) is commonly used in organic synthesis reactions and as a component in a variety of industrial, commercial, and research applications. One of these applications is as a fixative for biological materials, thus enabling the biological material to resist change. Formaldehyde’s effectiveness as a protein stabilizer has lead to its use in some consumer products: applying a dilute formaldehyde solution to hair followed by a hot iron treatment effectively modifies its shape as desired. Hair becomes less sensitive to relative humidity changes and more soft and shiny. These effects can last an average of 12 weeks. However, challenges to acceptance and widespread use exist because of concerns over human safety and environmental impact.
Possible approaches might include, but are not limited to:
- Novel biological or biomedical tissue preservation technologies
- Protein modification chemistry
- Leather tanning
- Embalming/taxidermy alternatives
- Hair straightening/relaxing technology
- Pressed wood products
- Wrinkle-free textiles
- Natural fiber chemistry
Approaches not of interest:
- Formaldehyde and toxic aldehydes such as glyoxal or glutaraldehyde
- Known alkaline ingredients (e.g. soda, guanidine) and thiols (e.g. thioglycolic acid)
- Approaches that require a vacuum
- Approaches that are dangerous for humans and the environment.
Technical Specifications / Specific technical requirements:
Successful approaches will:
- Provide the same or similar fiber modification properties as formaldehyde-based treatments of proteinaceous materials (e.g. keratin fibers, collagen, silk)
- Last for an average of 12 weeks
- Be chemically and physically stable (water-resistant, resistant to oxidants and reducing agents, stable in the presence of light and heat, and not promote release of toxic molecules)
- Be adaptable for use by trained technicians.
A successful reagent (material, chemical, ingredient, etc.) will:
- Rapidly modify proteinaceous fibers
- Be soluble in water or aqueous/organic solvent mixtures
- Preferably be active or reactive at ambient temperatures and the reaction will be complete and irreversible
- Be stable to or activated by thermal shock (<5 sec at 180°C)
- May be safely light-activated (any wavelength).
A successful device or physical process:
- Functions alone or in combination with reagent-based methods
- That protects humans against irritating reagents and allows specifications to be met, will be considered.