Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada have devised a way that could make virus-killing clothing a good fit for the production line. Typically, getting this kind of protective finish onto protective uniforms worn by soldiers, hospital workers, firefighters and first responders is a big challenge.
“We want to take the technology from the lab and scale it up so that it is efficient and compatible for industry-level manufacturing processes, which is a very big step,” says lead researcher Patricia Dolez, a textiles scientist in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences.
The finish uses N-halamines, which are compounds that can kill bacteria and viruses quickly and efficiently and can be easily grafted onto textiles. Once scaled up, it could be applied to protective uniforms for everyone from soldiers and hospital workers to firefighters and paramedics.
“This solution could apply to any type of protective clothing, even face masks, which introduces an additional way to help first responders stay healthy and safe,” says Dolez.
The researchers will also develop a recharging system needed to reactivate the finish that’s been applied to a garment, which requires dipping it in chlorine-containing solutions like bleach. But soldiers in the field don’t always have access to luxuries like running water or washing machines, so there needs to be an easy way they can recharge their garments in harsh conditions and remote environments, notes Dolez.
The researchers are partnering with Logistik Unicorp Inc., a Canadian company that manages supply chains for corporate and government clients worldwide that use protective clothing.
“They’re consulting with their clients, which brings an overarching view to our research that isn’t limited to one textile technology or application,” says Dolez. “That’s going to help us find out the best production process for our solution.”
The work is supported by almost $1 million in funding from the Department of National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security program.