Will This Sun-Reflecting Fabric Help Combat Climate Change?
Metafabric covering mechanisms are used in other applications such as paints for buildings and space shuttles, but “this is the first time it’s been made into a fabric, and that’s what’s exciting,” he said. YuHuang Wang |, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Maryland, was not involved in the study. “It’s interesting work that shows you can incorporate new functionality into fabrics.” Wang points out that the team’s tests on vests and auto caps are important because they show real -life use cases for consumer products.
Importantly, metafabric also acts like traditional fabrics. It can be inserted into spools; it is longer than cotton and as strong as spandex. This means it can be used with commercial sewing machines and for any pattern of clothing without the need for any special equipment or hand sewing, according to Ma and her team.
This can help metafabric jump over a barrier faced by other heat management fabrics. Jyotirmoy Mandal, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles who studies metamaterial and luminous cooling and is not involved in the study, said the researchers considered the comfort, durability, and versatility of the manufacturing process. metafabric design, other cooling aspects or the heating of fabrics are often lacking. “What’s really nice is that they’re really showing an innovative way to do it, which means we expect to see it actually available soon,” he said.
However metafabric may face some commercial challenges, as the garment industry becomes more competitive. “There is a lot of research on what makes something acceptable as a garment. There are many qualities of fabric that are hard to describe, especially the engineer,” says Gerbi-qualities such as durability, durability- is, and more topical but very important aspects of fashion and creativity.
Erik Torgerson, an engineer with the Security and Survivability lab at SRI International, whose field research was funded by APRA-E, pointed out that adding titanium dioxide particles to a fabric such as metafabric can make clothes. And any product made from fabrics that act by reflecting light is almost entirely white, according to Torgenson, thus limiting consumer choices.
Ma’s team didn’t test how consumers felt about the metafabric, but they said they were approached by about 40 or 50 companies interested in using it. One of them, Toread, a Chinese outdoor and sporting goods company, collaborated with researchers to assess manufacturing size. “If metafabric can be made in bulk, products made of fabric will be made ASAP,” said Toread vice president Byron Chen, who looks at metafabric being used in clothing, tents, buildings, and even for on cold chain transport of foods and vaccines.
If metafabric and other coming out cool fabrics find a way into the market, they could play a role in climate change. Recently at the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report predicted warmer global temperatures and frequent heat waves. In the US alone, heat stroke causes or contributes in part to 700 died every year; that number has continues to rise over time. The International Energy Agency anticipates global demand for air-conditioners triple over the next 30 years.
Fabrics for personal heat management may one day provide a classy alternative to air-conditioning. For that reason, it is important for Ma’s group to keep the price down. Guangming Tao, a senior project researcher and a professor at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, says materials and labor are often given a small share of the total price of clothing; the remainder is usually due to a 55 to 60 percent markup from vendors. He estimates that exchanging metafabric for another fabric will only increase material costs by about 1 percent.
“We try to make it as cheap as possible, so we can serve all the people who aren’t rich, who aren’t powerful,” Ma said. “That’s one of my aspirations – to benefit people with technology.”
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