With global warming no longer being a disputed notion but a scientific fact, researchers are breaking ground in the field of nano fabrics. The studies show promising results for a future where clothes are made out of smart fabric.
Our planet has been getting hotter and there is little chance of going back to having cooler summers. Of course there is still a point to curbing carbon emissions, recycling and being environmentally conscious. Nobody is suggesting giving up. But preparing for the years ahead is no doubt a good idea. As such, research into smarter fabrics is a field where there is a lot of innovation.
The Case for Nano Fabrics
Average temperatures have been increasing steadily in recent times and it looks like they will continue to do so. Summers have been getting hotter and hotter with frequent heatwaves. It seems like nothing that you wear can keep your body cool enough in the high heat.
The favourites for keeping your body cool on hot days are still natural fabrics like linen and cotton. In light colors. However, from a sustainability point of view, these crops require a lot of water to grow. And, recently, these conventional fabrics haven’t really managed to defeat the heat.
Engineering fabric makes sense because of the high cost associated with cooling people’s offices and homes. If we could come up with fabrics that naturally keep the body temperature down, that would be a step in the right direction. It would lower costs with air-conditioning and the impact on the environment.
The Science Behind Nano Fabrics
Scientists are already researching synthetic fabrics that are built to withstand high temperatures. The fabrics allow body heat to disperse better than conventional fabrics. Clothes made out of these materials could use cutting edge technology to keep the body temperature lower.
A team at Standford University has engineered a nano fabric using nano technology. The fabric allows moisture to leave the body better. Also, it helps infrared radiation escape better. Tests on the fabric have shown that it is superior to other fabrics. It keeps the human body 4.8 degrees (2.7 degrees Celsius) cooler than cotton. And 3.8 degrees (2.1 degrees Celsius) cooler than readily available synthetics.
The fabric is actually plastic wrap – polyethylene. It is very good at allowing infrared radiation to escape the body. However, it has a different pore size so it doesn’t let light through. Other chemicals that were added allow the heat and moisture out. When you add that it is also cheaper than cotton, it becomes a real competitor.
The fabric hasn’t been tested on humans yet. That would be the next logical step and there is interest in doing that. And after that, another three years would pass before mass production could proceed. Whether the pret-a-porter industry would be interested in using the fabric is another issue. Integrating nano fabrics seamlessly into fashion would be the last step.
So how long until we can start wearing smart clothes made out of high-tech nano fabrics? Less than you think.
Image source: here.