Can this reflective fabric help combat climate change?


The mechanism behind ultra-textiles has been used in other applications, such as reflective coatings for buildings and space shuttles, but “this is the first time it has been designed as a textile, so it’s exciting,” said YuHuang Wang, A professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Maryland, he was not involved in this research. “This is a very interesting work, showing that you can actually incorporate new features into textiles.” Wang pointed out that the team’s testing of vests and car covers is important because they show real use cases for consumer products.

Importantly, the function of super fabrics is also very much like traditional textiles. It can be rotated onto a spool; it is more elastic than cotton and as durable as spandex. Ma and his team said that this means that it can be used with existing commercial sewing machines, without any special equipment or hand sewing, and can be used for clothing with any pattern.

This may help super fabrics to overcome the barriers faced by other thermal management textiles. Joe Timoy MandalA postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles who studies metamaterials and radiant cooling but did not participate in the study pointed out that when designing metamaterials, researchers considered comfort, durability, and mass-manufacturing practices. Other cooling aspects or heating textiles are often lacking. “The really good thing is that they actually show a very scalable production method, which means we should expect to see it in actual use soon,” he said.

However, Metafabric may face some business challenges due to fierce competition in the apparel industry. “There are many factors that make a piece of clothing acceptable. Fabrics have many indescribable qualities, let alone engineers,” Gerbi said-such as durability, texture, and highly subjective but very important aspects of fashion and creativity The aspects and other qualities.

Eric TorgsonAn engineer at SRI International Safety and Survival Laboratory, whose research in this field was funded by APRA-E, he pointed out that adding titanium dioxide particles to textiles, just like in super fabrics, will make clothes heavier. Torgenson said that any product made of textiles that works by reflecting light must almost certainly be white, limiting consumer choice.

Ma’s team has not tested how consumers feel about metafabric, but they said that about 40 or 50 companies have contacted them and are interested in using it. one of them, readA Chinese outdoor and sporting goods company is collaborating with researchers to explore large-scale manufacturing. Byron Chen, vice president of Toread, said: “If super fabrics can be mass-produced, products made from this fabric will be completed as soon as possible.” He envisions super fabrics used in clothing, tents, construction, and even Cold chain transportation Food and vaccines.

If ultra-thin fabrics and other emerging cool textiles do find their way into the market, they can play a role in adapting to climate change.UN in the near future Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report Forecast hotter global temperatures and more frequent heat waves.In the United States alone, heat stroke can cause or contribute to approximately 700 deaths Per year; this number has Rise steadily over timeThe International Energy Agency predicts that the global demand for air-conditioning will Threefold in the next 30 years.

One day, textiles used for personal heat management may provide an alternative to air conditioning. For this reason, it is important for Ma’s team to keep prices down.Tao Guangming, a senior researcher on the project and a professor at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, said that materials and labor usually only account for a small part of the total price of clothing; the rest is usually due to 55% to 60% Retailer’s markup. He estimated that replacing super fabrics with another type of textile would only increase material costs by about 1%.

“We are trying to make it as cheap as possible so that it can serve all the people who are not rich and powerful,” Ma said. “This is one of my wishes-to allow ordinary people to benefit from technology.”

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