Cocona is a natural fabric enhancer that is made with activated carbon. The activated carbon is derived from coconut husks — it is a “waste” product of the water filter industry.
But what does Cocona do exactly? It is said to help traditional fabrics resist moisture, control odor and shield ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Activated carbon has a huge absorbing area — one gram of it has a surface area the size of two tennis court.
Some 40 outdoor clothing manufacturers, including GoLite, Marmot, Sierra Designs and Royal Robbins, are incorporating Cocona into their 2007 product lines.
Gilite created a Drimove Zip Top using Cocona. Outside Magazine gave it a 2007 Green Gear Award. Gregory Haggquist, from the Cocona company, provides a detail explanation of how the product works:
Activated carbon uses the adsorbance process to control odors. Adsorbance is a reversible process dictated by temperature. The activated carbon surface area is full of pores, the sizes of the pores and the size of the adsorbant (odor) dictated the interaction energy between the adsorbant and the adsorbate. The higher the interaction energy the higher the temperature required to desorb the adsorbant.
COCONA uses coconut shell activated carbon. Body odors are molecules such as butyric acid, isovaleric acid, and trimethyl amine. These molecules are all similar in size. The coconut shell activated carbon has pore sizes that are just right to adsorb these molecules at ambient temperatures and desorb these molecules at temperatures found in a washer (hot water cycle) and cloth dryers. We verified this by testing the adsorbance capacity of each COCONA certified fabric. The test determines the adsorbance capacity using butane gas. We ran experimental trials where we saturated a COCONA fabric and then washed and dried the fabric 50 times. We found that the adsorbance capacity slightly increased over the 50 cycles. The capacity increased because more of the pores of the coconut shell carbon became exposed. The reason for this is in the patented process TrapTek uses to make COCONA yarns and fabrics. TrapTek uses a protective layer which coats the carbon during the processing of the yarn. If no protective layer is used when the polyester polymer is melted to be formed into yarn the polyester will fill up the activated carbon. In a sense this deactivates the activated carbon. When the polyester solidifies to form the yarn the carbon pores are filled and covered with polyester never to be exposed. However, in the TrapTek patented process we use a protective layer which covers and protects the pores during the yarn processing and fabric production. The final step in the fabric processing removes this protective layer exposing the activated carbon pores. Further washing continues to remove this protective layer exposing more of the activated carbon pores increasing the adsorbance capacity.