We often rave on about the materials used in clothing and how sustainable (or otherwise) they might be. We sing the delights of organic cotton, hemp and recycled PET, for example. However, in doing so, we are forgetting a most important point. 'Use' can have a higher environmental load than 'production'. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) studies show that even in a short 2 year life span, over 75% of the energy consumption for apparel, comes from their laundering. With this, no doubt in mind, researchers at Clemson University plan on bringing us ‘self-cleaning’ clothes. Now, we noted something similar previously but the focus of this particular research project seems to be more on providing a better resistance to dirt, thus requiring less cleaning. Inspired by Lotus leaves, the University has devised a polymer film, which also includes silver nanotechnology particles. Just like the famed lily, when water is applied to the garment it beads up and rolls away, taking the dirt with it. They reckon you could just clean a suit by wiping it with a wet cloth! The researchers are confident they can enhance the same effect to shed body odour (a feature already touted by some sportwear manufacturers) and cigarette smell, also. About 3 years, they say, to commercialise their prototype 'self-cleaning' clothes. Can teenage boys wait that long? Guess they'll have to depend on Mum a while longer yet. Via ::Sports textiles [by WM]
PS: There is a car paint that offers similar benefits but more on that another time.
Cool photo was found here