Could this sun-reflecting fabric help fight climate change?

The mechanisms behind the metallic texture have been used in other applications such as reflective paints for buildings and space shuttles, but “this is the first time that it has been engineered into a fabric, which is exciting,” he says. Yuhuang WangD., a professor in the University of Maryland’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, was not involved in the study. “It’s interesting work that shows that you can really incorporate new functions into textiles.” Wang points out that the team’s tests of jackets and car covers are important because they demonstrate realistic use cases for consumer goods.

Most importantly, the super texture also works like traditional textiles. It can be woven on spools; It is more stretchy than cotton and as durable as spandex. This means it can be used with existing commercial sewing machines and any style of clothing without the need for any special equipment or hand stitching, according to him and his team.

This light texture may help overcome an obstacle faced by other heat management textiles. Jiutermoy MandalA postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles who studies metamaterials and radiative cooling and was not involved in the study, notes that the researchers considered comfort, durability, and extensive manufacturing practices in superfabric design, which are other aspects of cooling. Or heating textiles often lacking. “What’s really nice is that it shows a very scalable way to do this, which means we should expect to see this in action soon,” he says.

However, the synthetic textile industry may face some commercial challenges, as the apparel industry is highly competitive. “There is so much that makes something acceptable as clothing. There are so many qualities of fabric that it’s hard to describe, not to mention engineering” — qualities like durability, texture, and very subjective aspects but so important to fashion and creativity.

Eric TorgersonAn engineer at the SRI International Security and Survival Laboratory, whose research in this area has been funded by APRA-E, notes that adding titanium dioxide particles to the fabric as in the superfine can make clothing heavier. Any product made with textiles that work by reflecting light should definitely be white, Turgenson says, which limits consumer choices.

Ma’s team hasn’t tested how consumers feel about the lightweight fabric, but they say about 40 or 50 companies interested in using it have contacted them. one of them, to read, a Chinese outdoor and sporting goods company, is working with researchers to explore large-scale industrialization. Says Byron Chen, Toread Vice President, who envisions using metallic fabric in clothing, tents, buildings and even in cold chain transmission of foods and vaccines.

If metallic fabric and other refrigerated textiles find their way to the market, they can play a role in adapting to climate change. last United Nations’ Intergovernmental panel on climate change Report It predicts hotter global temperatures and more frequent heat waves. In the United States alone, heat stroke causes or contributes to about 700 deaths every year; This number has It rises steadily over time. The International Energy Agency forecasts global demand for air conditioners Triple in the next thirty years.

Textiles for personal heat management may one day offer a kind of alternative to air conditioners. For this reason, it is important for Team Ma to keep prices low. Guangming Tao, a senior researcher on the project and a professor at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, says that materials and labor usually account for only a small part of the overall price of clothing; The rest is usually due to a 55 to 60 percent Coding from retailers. He estimates that replacing the base fabric with other textiles will only increase material costs by about 1 percent.

“We are trying to make it as cheap as possible, so it will be able to serve all those people who are not wealthy, who are not powerful,” Ma says. “This is one of my wishes – to make ordinary people benefit from technology.”

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