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Clothing may provide solution to urban air pollution
30
Apr '13
With the ongoing discussions about the impact of textile industry on environment and the importance of sustainability, fashion designers are changing their focus from designing garments with aesthetic value to clothing with environmental value.

One of the recent examples of clothing designed with positive impact on environment is ‘Catalytic Clothing’ which can be used as a catalytic surface to purify air. Catalytic clothing is the brain child of Helen Storey, Professor of Fashion Science at the University of the Arts, London, and Prof. Tony Ryan, Pro-vice-chancellor for the Faculty of Science at the University of Sheffield, England.

Speaking to fibre2fashion, Prof. Helen Storey said, “Catalytic clothing is a collaborative and public experiment between fashion and science as well as a beautifully radical concept which endeavors to purify the air that we breathe through the surface of our clothes.”

“With the help of sunlight, the catalysts will neutralize the dirt from the air pollution around the wearer that would otherwise end up stuck to the clothes,” she mentions.

According to Prof. Tony Ryan, catalytic clothing harnesses the power of a photocatalyst to breakdown air borne pollutants. “When the light shines on the photocatalyst, the electrons in the material are rearranged and they become more reactive. These electrons are then able to react with the water in the air and break it apart into two radicals. These radicals then react with the pollutants and cause them to break down into non-harmful chemical,” he informs.

"However, some pollutants may still become attached without being broken down. In this case, the pollutants will be washed off during subsequent laundering, as it already happens with normal clothing,” he continues.

Explaining further, he says, “Catalytic clothing is a beautiful manifestation of a deeply technical process... We will engage the public in formulating its nature and application allowing us to develop something that is both user-friendly and technically excellent.”

“Exposure to air borne pollutants presents a risk to human health and also has a detrimental effect on ecosystems and vegetation. Air pollution is currently estimated to reduce the life expectancy of every person in the UK by an average of 7-8 months. The widespread introduction of catalytic clothing would dramatically reduce the level of air borne pollutants, thereby improving the quality of life for all members of society,” he concludes.  

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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