(SGI) BenQ Materials Corporation, a Taiwanese company specializing in materials science, has launched a new nanoporous waterproof/breathable membrane technology for high-performance sports apparel which, it claims, provides both environmental sustainability and more benefits than other, more popular membranes.

The key component of the new Xpore membrane is polyolefin, which belongs to a class of polymers produced from a simple olefin, containing only carbon and hydrogen. Xpore has two claims to ecological friendliness. First, it uses no solvents or water, since its manufacture is done with mechanical stretching instead of chemicals, and is also free of PFCs/PTFE. Second, as a BenQ spokesperson has said, the Xpore membrane produces no harmful chemicals or gases during its thermal treatment for recycling, because it is a pure hydrocarbon. As a polyolefin membrane, it is also completely recyclable. The Xpore membrane can therefore be safely recycled together with textile fabrics.

For now, the new 100 percent PFC-free membrane is used exclusively by a French sports brand, Picture Organic Clothing, which advertised the membrane’s ecological claim at the recent Ispo Munich show, and by Geox. One of the brand’s founders, Julien Durant, said that the innovative membrane enables his brand to reach high-end consumers with jackets equivalent to Gore-Tex Pro shells.

BenQ Materials is a three-year-old division of Taiwan’s $20 billion BenQ Group of high-tech firms. Initially called Daxon Technology, the company was established in 1998 with headquarters in Taoyuan, Taiwan. It has a fully equipped laboratory for innovation. BenQ Materials began as an optical-storage manufacturer and has gradually shifted its core business to materials science. BenQ Materials’ product lines include functional films, advanced battery materials and healthcare products.