The potential of anthocyanins from blueberries as a natural dye for cotton: A combined experimental and theoretical study

K.T. Phan, E. Van den Broeck, V. Van Speybroeck, K. De Clerck, K. Raes, S. De Meester
Dyes and Pigments
176, 108180


Natural dyes might be more environmentally sustainable compared to their synthetic counterparts, however in general their performance is worse. Therefore, typically metallic mordants are applied to improve the natural dye's affinity towards substrates, but this is not a suitable technique in a ‘green story’. In this paper, we test the potential of using anthocyanins from blueberry waste for dyeing cotton with biomordants, which are selected to tailor the intermolecular interactions such as hydrogen bonds, ionic bonds and π-π interactions with the dye molecule. In the experimental part, parameters during extraction and dyeing were optimized (e.g. temperature, pH, dyeing time and concentration). The effect of the (bio)mordants was monitored by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, spectrophotometric measurements and standard ISO wash and light tests. It was shown that stannous chloride stands out as metallic mordant, while no biomordants show sufficient intermolecular interactions to replace this metal salt. The experimental study has been corroborated with a series of molecular modeling calculations to obtain more insight into the intermolecular interactions between dye and (bio)mordants. To this end, both static Density Functional Theory based calculations as semi-empirical and force field based molecular dynamics calculations have been performed. The results indeed confirm that, in general, too small interaction energies for the biomordants of interest with the dye molecules are found, in correspondence with experimental findings. Overall, by performing systematic experiments in combination with the interpretation of the molecular models, this study yields valuable insights into the development of green routes towards use of anthocyanins as a natural dye for cellulose-based materials.

Open Access version available at UGent repository