The University of Sheffield has collaborated with the London College of Fashion and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to develop a revolutionary liquid laundry additive called ‘CatClo’, which contains microscopic pollution-eating particles. The team behind the product says that the additive can be added to laundry to create clothes that purify the air as the wearer moves!

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If everything goes to plan, CatClo’s creators hope that the product will be made commercially available within the next two years. It really is an innovative concept – clothes are simply washed in the additive once, allowing nanoparticles of titanium dioxide to grip onto the fabrics very tightly. When these particles come into contact with nitrogen oxides in the air, they react with the pollutants and oxides to make them completely odorless and colorless. The pollutants are then removed harmlessly when the item of clothing is next washed, if they haven’t already been dissipated harmlessly with sweat. CatClo itself is also completely harmless and the wearer would not even notice it if they were wearing it.

It is estimated that a single person wearing clothes treated with CatClo would be able to remove around 5g of nitrogen oxides from the air over the course of an average day. This is roughly the equivalent produced each day by an average family car. By removing such nitrogen oxides from the air, CatClo-treated clothes would benefit those that suffer from respiratory ailments as they would create cleaner air as they move around.

Professor Tony Ryan OBE of the University of Sheffield, who has co-led the project along with Professor Helen Storey MBE from London College of Fashion, said: “It’s the action of daylight on the nanoparticles that makes them function in this way. The development of the additive is just one of the advances we’re making in the field of photocatalytic materials – materials that, in the presence of light, catalyse chemical reactions. Through CatClo, we aim to turn clothes into a catalytic surface to purify air.”

“If thousands of people in a typical town used the additive, the result would be a significant improvement in local air quality”, says Professor Ryan. “This additive creates the potential for community action to deliver a real environmental benefit that could actually help to cut disease and save lives. In Sheffield, for instance, if everyone washed their clothes in the additive, there would be no pollution problem caused by nitrogen oxides at all.

+ University of Sheffield

via Eclipse Magazine