Nanotechnology meets fashion: behold the climate friendly kilt

The unlikely pairing of a chemist and a fashion designer has led to the creation of air-purifying textiles. The duo will debut a catalyzed denim kilt at the Edinburgh International Science Festival at the end of March.

And by debut, they mean wearing it.

Chemist Tony Ryan from the University of Sheffield in the U.K., who will wear the kilt, has devised a way of spraying a fabric with photocatalysts to scrub at least one major pollutant — nitric oxide — from the air. When light shines on the photocatalyst it responds to the water in the air and breaks down into two hyper reactive molecules or radicals.

It's these radicals that grab on to the nitric oxide and breaks them down. Those that aren't broken down are harmlessly washed away when the fabric is laundered, and at this stage wouldn't be much different from what would be found on clothing anyway.

Ryan estimates that if everyone in the British city of Sheffield wore catalyzed clothing they could reduce the nitric oxide — a gas that contributes to climate change — to bring the city within safe limits. That's quite a feat for a manufacturing centered city.

Ryan's chemistry has been paired with clothing designs from noted artist/designer Helen Storey, professor at London Design College. Together they have created a forward-thinking clothing line, Catalytic Clothing.

Previous collaborations have included installations of pollutant reducing jeans in various U.K. parks entitled "Field of Jeans," and dresses that dissolve in water.

The goal of the pollutant scrubbing kilt and the prior Catalytic Clothing exhibits is not unlike the clothing itself — to be a catalyst for change. The team believes fashion is an accessible way to put forward the idea of fighting pollution and the buildup of greenhouse gasses.

Until the clothing line makes it to store shelves, stunts like climate change kilt are a great way to get people thinking and talking!

Smartplanet, via Good.Is

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