How to

10 April 2017

Nanoporous Polyethylene Fabric Could Provide Personal Thermal Management

It’s difficult to know what fabrics to wear in order to maintain a comfortable temperature; you want to be warm enough, but avoid sweating, and personal hygiene products like deodorant can only do so much to stop this. Cooling and heating systems in buildings are used to artificially attempt to control temperature, but with everybody different and reacting in varying ways, it’s time to start focusing on the individual.

Researchers are exploring “personal thermal management” to look to controlling individual body temperature through clothing and textiles, rather than heating or cooling environments or buildings.

Scientists have recently developed nanoporous polyethylene, a textile which could provide a personal thermal management system when made into clothes. When developing the textile, scientists researched the body’s heat systems in terms of how the body emits infrared radiation (IR).

While most textiles used for clothing absorb the IR, the new textile looks to reduce the amount absorbed, by being transparent to the radiation yet still opaque in visible light to work as a material suitable for clothing. Nanoporous polyethylene contains interconnected pores that are between 50 to 1,000nm in diameter, which also contribute crucial air permeability and water-wicking characteristics.

When analysing the light and infrared radiation of a nanoporous polyethylene film, the material was found to allow more than 90% total infrared radiation transmittance. Tests also resulted in the new textile performing better in sweat evaporation than normal cotton and traditional fibrous polyethylene.

The discovery of the personal thermal management properties of nanoporous polyethylene means that temperature-adapting clothing may be readily available to all in the future. This being likely due to the already commercial-availability of the textile, as well as the low cost at about £2 per square metre.  Thermal textile technology may eventually cut energy costs and emissions, when the technology reaches a point where individuals no longer need air-con units when having their own thermal management system in their clothing.

Laura Sewell

An aspiring journalist, Laura is our content writer intern.  Pop-punk gig-goer and drag queen enthusiast, Laura is working her way into the industry with an English A -Level and love of writing about anything and everything in tow.