COP21 | What if we could depollute air & water with our clothes?

After a first day of COP21, I can’t say I’m so optimistic about the outcome of the summit… But, good news is, fashion too can bring some pretty solutions to help save our planet. How? Thanks to depolluting fabrics. The technology, or should I say chemistry, has been known for quite a while now. Catalytic clothing could bring together fashion and chemistry, with the potential to clean the air we breathe, isn’t it a great promise?

Fashion designer Professor Helen Storey MBE and chemist Professor Tony Ryan OBE have already been demonstrating how depolluting fabrics could be fashionable through their amazing Catalytic Clothing project a few years ago. Today, in the light of the COP21, a French company has been making tests to use the technology out of fashion, and it only waits to be industrialized!

How does it work? Photocatalysis consists in a fabric that neutralises certain pollutants through the action of natural or artificial light. The fabric, after being soaked with a laundry additive that sticks to its surface, reacts with airborne nitrogen oxide to neutralise them. The fabric draws its energy from light.

What’s interesting with the French company using it, even if it’s not in fashion, is that they incorporated optic fibers into the fabric (by weaving optical fibers to textile fibers), so that it doesn’t need an external light to work. The LED inside, which consumes little energy, dispatches the light on the fabric, activating the photocatalyst that has been previously spread on the fabric. To learn more about it, you can check out CNRS website here.


Along the same idea of depolluting, there’s the Sponge Suit, a depolluting swimsuit. This time, it’s not fabric-based, but rather a 3D printed swimsuit made of a sponge-like material, that absorbs oil and pollution, and also desalinate the water. A great concept, that is not really commercialisable, since the absorbed chemical products stay in the suit, which can absorb up to 25 times its weight, and will only be spread out if the suit is heated to a temperature of 1000 degrees (so no suit left)…


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