September 27, 2012

NanoPants 2.0

After a decade, we finally have what looks like the successor to stain resistant “NanoPants.” The boys and girls in the nanotech lab have come up with a nanoparticle additive in detergent that actually causes your clothes to create a kind of bubble of clean air around you as you walk.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield and the London College of Fashion (yes, you read that correctly, fashion and science going hand-in-hand), have come up with a concoction called CatClo (for Catalytic Clothing), “which contains microscopic pollution-eating particles,” according to a news release put out by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council in the UK.

Just wash your clothing in the additive once and titanium dioxide nanoparticles grab hold of the fabric. Walk around and the particles react with nitrogen oxide pollution in the air and purifies it. It is being promoted as a solution for those who suffer from asthma and have a hard time with the nitrogen oxide coming from automotive exhausts.

“It’s the action of daylight on the nanoparticles that makes them function in this way,” Tony Ryan of the University of Sheffield said in the release. “The development of the additive is just one of the advances we’re making in the field of photocatalytic materials – materials that, in the presence of light, catalyse chemical reactions. Through CatClo, we aim to turn clothes into a catalytic surface to purify air.”

The researchers said CatClo works particularly well on denim. “And there are more jeans on the planet than people. So, even if we just used CatClo on this one item of clothing from our wardrobe it could make a significant difference,” they said.

Of course, as it was with the “nanopants,” there will be those who will be suspicious of claims that the product is “completely harmless.”

Remember nanopants? Wired quoted me almost 10 years ago in a much-mocked statement: “I’m wearing nanopants as we speak.” Later, I covered a story for Wired that featured a group of scantily-clad anti-nanotech protesters in Chicago that would rather go naked than wear nano.

Oh, those were the days … when anti-nanotech protesters simply went naked rather than mailing deadly bombs. If there have to be CatClo protests, let’s hope for peaceful kind.

Image Credit: Catalytic Clothing

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