Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Double-Duty Textile Developed Could Keep Warm or Cool

Double-Duty Textile
Engineers from Stanford University have developed a low-priced, plastic-based Double-duty textile that interwoven in the fabric refreshes the body much more efficiently than the natural or synthetic fabrics of the clothes we wear today.

The study, published recently by Science, suggests that this new family of Double-duty textile can form the basis of clothing that keeps people cool in hot climates without the need for air conditioning.
"If you can refresh people, it's better than refreshing the building where they live or work, so we'll save energy," Yi Cui, an associate professor at Stanford University, said in a statement.

The new Double-duty textile cools by allowing sweat to evaporate through the fabric, something that normal fabrics already do, but the novelty is that it provides a second innovative mechanism to cool the body.

Human heat passes through plastic

The Double-duty textile allows the heat that the body emits as infrared radiation to pass through the plastic Double-duty textile. In fact, the blankets warm us because they trap that kind of heat near the body, which is the same that makes the body visible in the dark when wearing night vision goggles.

Between 40% and 60% of our body's heat dissipates in the form of infrared radiation when we are sitting in an office, another of the study's authors, Shanhui Fan, has indicated, but so far "there has been very little or no research on the design of fabrics according to their characteristics of thermal radiation ".

For the development of the new plastic weave, the researchers used nanotechnology, photons and chemistry to confer polyethylene a series of desirable characteristics for a Double-duty textile that is used to dress.

Thus, it allows thermal radiation, air and water vapor to pass through it, besides being opaque to visible light, and allows infrared radiation to pass through it, because that is one of the characteristics of polystyrene, one whose uses is to wrap food.

Chemically treated polystyrene

The Stanford experts did have to face two problems in the use of polystyrene: that it is waterproof and that it lets in light. To solve these problems, the researchers found a polystyrene variant that has a nanostructure that is opaque to visible light, but transparent to infrared radiation - allowing the body's heat to escape.

They also modified this Double-duty textile by treating it with harmless chemicals to allow vapor molecules to evaporate through nanopores in the plastic, allowing it to breathe like a natural fiber.

Once the material was obtained and to make it more similar to the Double-duty textile, they created a version with three layers, two of them treated polystyrene separated by a cotton mesh to give it more strength and thickness.

The experts continue with their research to add more colors to the new Double-duty textile and give it characteristics and textures that make it more similar to clothing.

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