Innovation That Matters

| Photo source Cherry Cai, RMIT University

Could nanodiamond clothes help you beat the heat?

Fashion & Beauty

The coated textiles cool wearers by as much as three degrees Celsius

Spotted: As global temperatures rise, so too does demand for cooling processes. Growth in the use of HVAC systems then pushes up global demand for electricity. Helping to slow, if not halt, the consequent rise of emissions are innovations focused on designing alternative, and more sustainable, means of cooling people and buildings.

In Australia, researchers from RMIT Australia’s Centre for Materials Innovation and Future Fashion (CMIFF) have created a smart textile to cool down wearers. The cotton textile is coated in nanodiamonds, an inexpensive substance that can be made from waste materials and is safe for the human body. The chemical structure of nanodiamonds is a carbon lattice similar to that of diamonds, but much smaller and with particularly strong thermal conductivity properties.

It is this thermal conductivity that makes nanodiamonds so efficient at pulling heat away from the person wearing the fabric. The heat then dissipates in the air. Scientists coated only the side of the fabric that touches the skin in order to prevent the clothing from drawing heat from the air towards the wearer.

When compared to untreated fabric, the nanodiamond-coated clothing reduced the wearer’s temperature by two to three degrees Celsius. That is enough of a temperature difference to possibly delay or significantly lessen the amount of time an air conditioner is used. Because of this, the team estimated that energy savings of 20 to 30 per cent are possible when using the nanodiamond textiles. And, the treated textiles also demonstrated improved UV resistance, meaning wearers would be better protected against heat and the sun when outside on hot days.

Next steps in the development of the coating are to improve its washing and rubbing durability and begin exploring possibilities for commercial manufacturing.

Other wearable textile innovations spotted in Springwise’s library include t-shirts layered with aluminium, copper and zinc nanoparticles for heating and cooling and a recycled, engineered polyethylene fabric available in either a cooling or warming version.

Written By: Keely Khoury

Email: rajiv.padhye@rmit.edu.au

Website: rmit.edu.au/centre-materials-innovation-future-fashion

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