Cornell U. develops textile that absorbs pollutants

December 9th, 2016 / By: / EcoNote

Researchers at Cornell University in the U.S. have developed a technique that allows the creation of functional textiles that could be capable of filtering pollutants out of water and air. By infusing cotton with a beta-cyclodextrin (BCD) polymer, the fabric can act as a filtration device. The cotton fabric was present in the polymerisation process, resulting in a unique polymer grafted to the cotton surface.

The cotton fibers were scanned under an electron microscope and found to be unchanged after the process. When tested for the absorption of pollutants in water and air, the fibers showed greater uptakes than that of untreated cotton fabric or commercial absorbents.

“One of the limitations of some super absorbents is that you need to be able to put them into a substrate that can be easily manufactured,” said Juan Hinestroza, associate professor of fiber science and director of undergraduate studies in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell. “Fibers are perfect for that; fibers are everywhere.”

“We’re compatible with existing textile machinery; you wouldn’t have to do a lot of retooling,” he added. “It works on both air and water, and we proved that we can remove the compounds and reuse the fiber over and over again.”

The absorption potential of the technique could extend to other materials. There is a patent pending.

The report was published in sportstextiles.com.