Source: New Cloth Market

Vat dyes, which include indigo and anthraquinone-based dyes, are chemically complex dyes which are insoluble in water. They must first be reduced to the leuco form in an alkaline solution of sodium hydrosulfite before application to the cotton or rayon fiber. Air oxidation fixes the dye strongly on the fiber, resulting in excellent wash-fastness and light-fastness. The vat dyes were one of the most significant textile dye inventions in the 20th century.

Indanthrene blue was the first anthraquinone vat dye, synthesized by Ren Bohn at BASF in Germany in 1901. He used the synthetic indigo reaction conditions with 2-aminoanthraquinone, fusing it with caustic potash, to obtain the colorant. By 1906, Bayer had introduced the first vat red and marketed a range of colors under the Algol brand. The United States imported vats from Germany because domestic production was hindered by German patent protection, the lack of sufficient anthracene (the source of anthraquinone), inadequate technical expertise of American chemists, and the large investment needed for organic solvent operations, specialized equipment, and explosion proof manufacturing buildings.

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Originally Published in New Cloth Market, June-2011