French startup PILI producing sustainable dyes and pigments without fossil fuels

French biotechnology start-up PILI is producing sustainable dyes and pigments without fossil fuels, in order to reduce the environmental footprint of the colour industry.

The biobased dyes and pigments company uses hybrid processes combining industrial fermentation and green chemistry to generate high-performance colour ranges for industrial ink and paint formulations.

It has developed a completely new dye technology, designing an enzymatic process that turns renewable carbon feedstocks, such as sugar, into textile dyes. By using enzymes, PILI can can produce dyes for a wide variety of color hues and applications.

PILI’s unique enzymatic process is aimed at manufacturing high-performance bio-based dyes and pigments to reduce the environmental impact of the textile industry. The company’s technology has the potential to get rid of polluting heavy oils and chemicals involved in the production of colours for textile, plastics, coatings and inks applications, which the company identifies as the most polluting.

According to PILI, the biobased dyes are less polluting than classical petrochemical dyes mostly because their production process is much cleaner. Each kilogram of regular dye necessitates the use of 100 kg of heavy oil, 10 kg of toxic chemicals and 1000l of water as well as energy to heat the mixtures up to 300 °C. Whereas PILI’s microorganisms produce the same amount of dye using no petrol, no chemicals, and grow in five times less water at room temperature.

PILI says: “Our technology is based on microbial enzymes, re-engineered to produce brilliant and effective dyes from renewable resources.

“Enzymatic synthesis allows us to partner with microbes to create materials in sustainable ways, saving energy and reducing waste. Enzymes can do chemistry with remarkable precision, and without large inputs of energy or toxic reagents.”

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. 


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