Aug 18, 2019 | Updated: 08:03 AM EDT

Fabrics that can Protect You Against Toxins and Chemicals

Apr 06, 2019 03:23 PM EDT

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This research can help in improving personal protective equipment and masks for doctors, soldiers and other professions that are at risk of exposure from this chemical. 

The researchers at North Carolina State University and the U.S. Army's Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (CCDC CBC) made textiles that are functional and that can neutralize a blistering agent simulant, the condition of it is that is should have a relative of 80 percent of humidity. The new coating of the textiles also captured ammonia gas, a chemical that is commonly produced in the industry in the United States. 

"For more than a century, we've had threats from chemical warfare agents, from chlorine and mustard gas in World War I to recent attacks against civilians in Syria," says Dennis T. Lee, a recent Ph.D. recipient at NC State and lead author of an article about the work. "We need to find ways to capture and chemically break down toxic gases for practical, better-performing protective equipment."

The researchers worked with (MOFs) or metal-organic frameworks - they are coatings that are synthesized over the microfibers. There are two challenges that is kept in mind. The first one is creating MOFs that can remain working and stable even in the presence of moisture while there are compounds that are hazardous in a thin film, it is a process that is known as absorption. The second challenge is achieving the desired coating that is effective enough in degrading the toxic chemicals of the fiber. 

The researchers made a  (Cu)-based MOF film or a water-stable copper. Instead of working with the usual powder source, they used the solid film that was deposited on the fiber, it then captured the ammonia gas three times effectively than the same MOF powder. 

"This alignment formed a dense coating on the fibers, with better integration and adhesion to the surface, and improved adsorptive performance for hazardous gases," Lee says.

The MOF-coated composties have the ability to be used as the base film in textiles to protect the users from chemicals, Lee says. This method can be used by those in who uses smart textiles that have many functions, like sensors, he adds. 

Future plans for this action calls for testing the new materials with real chemicals and warfare agents, working with U.S. Army experts at the CCDC CBC.

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