Researchers from Donghua University – China have developed a material that keeps the wearer cool without using any electricity. The fabric transfers heat, allows moisture to evaporate from the skin, and repels water.
Cooling a person’s body is much more efficient than cooling an entire room or building. To date, various clothing and textiles have been designed to try to achieve this, but most have disadvantages, such as poor cooling capacity, high electricity consumption, complex and slow manufacturing, and high cost.
Yang Si, Bin Ding and their colleagues at Donghua University wanted to develop a personal cooling fabric that could efficiently transfer heat out of the body and at the same time be breathable, water-repellent and easy to manufacture.
Higher thermal conductivity
The researchers made the new material by electrospinning a polymer (polyurethane), a water-repellent version of the polymer (fluorinated polyurethane), and a heat-conducting filler (boron nitride nanoscale) on nanofibrous membranes.
It is a personal cooling fabric that efficiently transfers heat out of the body
These membranes repel water from the outside, but they have pores large enough to allow sweat to evaporate from the skin and air to circulate. Boron nitride nanoscales cover the polymer nanofibers, forming a network that conducts heat from an indoor source to the outside air.
In tests, published in the scientific journal ‘ ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces’, thermal conductivity was higher than that of many other conventional or high-tech fabrics and saves on air conditioning.
According to SciTechDaily, this new membrane could have more applications apart from personal cooling. It could help solar energy harvesting, desalination of seawater and thermal management of electronic devices, according to the researchers.