A recently released Stanford study contains research from engineers which may change the type of seasonal clothing individuals choose to wear. The low-cost textile has the potential to cool the body more efficiently than natural fibers when woven into articles of clothing.
When the researchers described their work in Science, they suggested that the innovative fabric family could help keep us cool without using air conditioning. With the new material, the human body will be allowed to discharge heat and allow the wearer to feel cooler. As perspiration evaporates through the material, the fabric also allows heat emitted from the body to pass through. That brings with it the potential to save energy and money at the same time.
The total energy consumption in the United States which is contributed by cooling and heating spaces accounts for just over 12 percent. While modern technology has made an impact on reducing energy usage, being able to cool one person at a time is treading on new territory. The innovative research on textiles brings with it the potential to change how individuals wear everyday clothing. Merging fashion with technology opens a new world of possibilities.
While modern workout garments do work to wick away sweat and moisture, they do not work to keep a person continually cool. In addition to the wicking properties, the new textile is also providing a way of escape for heat. Since the human body emits heat even when sitting, the research paves the way for a practical and versatile line of apparel not only for the athlete, but for everyone.
Organic fabrics absorb sweat and wool offers a wicking effect, but these materials still hold in infrared radiation. By allowing infrared radiation to pass through the “kitchen wrap”, the team then went step-by-step to create a useful idea. The Stanford engineers used their knowledge in chemistry and nanotechnology, in conjunction with experiments done with plastic wrap, to add a coating and cotton mesh before testing the cooling effect. They found that it cooled more effectively than both polyethylene fabrics and traditional cotton. The team then filed a patent for the technology.
The addition of colors and textures has the potential to change how the average person feels in his or her own clothing. And although the materials, which the researchers have termed the textile nanoPE, short for nanoporous polyethylene, may still be far off into the future, it does offer a promising alternative to traditional garment design. The future for the team includes the development of a version which would feel natural against the skin and still keep the cooling properties.
Apart from clothing, there is also the potential to use the innovative fabric in other areas of life. Fabric used for tents and vehicles could also benefit from the advanced science, and the research team is hoping to open up new ways to heat and cool without the extensive use of outside energy. In as little as just a few years, the way clothing works for the wearer could change in ways everyone can appreciate.