Researchers turn fashion waste into multifunctional material

phys.org | 2/14/2018 | Staff
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A research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Engineering has devised a fast, cheap and green method to convert cotton-based fabric waste, such as unwanted clothing, into highly compressible and ultralight cotton aerogels. The researchers also demonstrated the application of this novel material to keep military water bottles cold and for effective control of rapid bleeding.

Aerogels are among the lightest materials in the world and are highly porous with strong absorption capacity and low thermal conductivity. These unique properties make aerogels highly suitable for applications in areas including oil-spill cleaning, personal care products such as diapers, and for heat and sound insulation. While aerogels were first created in the 1930s, they have not been widely adopted by industry due to high production costs. The NUS team has successfully pioneered the development of aerogels using cotton fibres harvested from textile waste.

Associate - Professor - Hai - Minh - Duong

Led by Associate Professor Hai Minh Duong and Professor Nhan Phan-Thien from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at NUS Faculty of Engineering, the research team discovered that the novel cotton aerogels can be easily compressed, and they can also very quickly recover up to 97 per cent of their original size when placed in water.

"This new eco-friendly cotton aerogel is a major improvement from the aerogel that our team had previously developed using paper waste. It is highly compressible, hence storage and transportation costs could be greatly reduced. Furthermore, these cotton aerogels can be fabricated within eight hours—this is nine times faster than our earlier invention, and about 20 times faster than current commercial fabrication processes. They are also stronger, making them more suitable for mass production. While we have demonstrated novel application of the cotton aerogels for effective haemorrhage control and heat insulation, we will continue to explore new functions for this advanced material," said Associate...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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