Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists develop special cotton that collects water from fog

28.01.2013
Chinese and Dutch scientists have developed a special surface modified cotton fabric that absorbs water from misty air for up to 340% of its own weight. The cotton then releases the collected water as temperature rises, a potential solution to provide water to the desert regions, for example for agricultural purposes.

Scientists at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) in the Netherlands have developed a special surface modified cotton fabric that absorbs exceptional amounts of water from misty air for up to 340% of its own weight.

What makes this coated-cotton so interesting is that the cotton releases the collected water as the temperature rises. This unique property makes of the coated cotton materials a potential solution to provide water to the desert regions, for example for agricultural purposes.

This ground-breaking research was done by Professor John Xin, Head and Chair Professor of PolyU's Institute of Textiles and Clothing (ITC); his PhD graduate Dr Hengrui Yang; and Dr Catarina Esteves at TU/e. The finding has been published on line and will go to print in the scientific journal Advanced Materials (Issue 8, February 2013). Dr Hengrui Yang was awarded the C C Lee Scholarship in 2008 for her doctorate degree and graduated in 2012. She has currently moved to Melbourne, Australia to pursue her research career.

The scientists grafted a layer of polymer called PNIPAAm to a common cotton fabric. At low temperatures, the cotton modified in this way has a sponge-like structure at microscopic level. Up to a temperature of 34°C it is highly hydrophilic, in other words it absorbs water strongly. Through this property the cotton can absorb 340 % of its own weight of water from misty air – compared with only 18% of water from bare cotton. When the environment temperature rises to 34°C or above, the material becomes hydrophobic or water-repellant and its structure becomes completely closed. Pure water absorbed at lower temperature will be released. The research revealed that the water absorbing and releasing cycle can be repeated many times.

The research team is inspired by nature for the development of fog-catching cotton fabric. They noted that beetles in desert areas can collect early morning dew and drink water from fogs, by capturing water droplets on its body which roll into its mouth. Similarly, some spiders capture humidity on their silk network. The innovative new fabric collects and releases water from misty environments simply as the night-and-day temperature changes. This interesting property implies that the material may potentially be suitable for providing water in deserts or mountain regions, where the air is often misty at night.

A further advantage is that the basic material – cotton fabric – is cheap and widely produced. The surface modification with PNIPAAm increases the cost only slightly by 12% which makes the application of the new fabric viable.

Currently fine-mesh 'fog harvesting nets' are already being used in some mountains and dry coastal areas, but they work on a different principle: they collect water from misty air by droplets that gradually form on the nets and fall to the ground or a suitable recipient. But that system depends on a strong air flow, wind. The new fabric developed by the research team works without the need of wind. In addition, new fabric can be laid directly where the water is needed, for example on cultivated soil.

On top of agricultural use, the research team is also considering other completely different applications such as camping tents that collect water at night, or sportswear that keeps perspiring athletes dry.

PolyU and TU/e scientists also intend to investigate further how they can optimize the quality of the new material. For example, they hope to increase the amount of water absorbed by the new system. Moreover, they also expect to be able to adjust the temperature at which the material changes from water-collecting to the water-releasing state, towards lower temperatures.

Press Contacts
Professor John Xin
Head and Chair Professor, Institute of Textile and Clothing

Tel: (852) 2766 6474
Email: john.xin@polyu.edu.hk

Wilfred Lai | Research asia research news
Further information:
http://www.polyu.edu.hk
http://www.researchsea.com

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Worldwide Success of Tyrolean Wastewater Treatment Technology
27.05.2016 | Universität Innsbruck

nachricht How nanoparticles flow through the environment
12.05.2016 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Worldwide Success of Tyrolean Wastewater Treatment Technology

A biological and energy-efficient process, developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck, converts nitrogen compounds in wastewater treatment facilities into harmless atmospheric nitrogen gas. This innovative technology is now being refined and marketed jointly with the United States’ DC Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water). The largest DEMON®-system in a wastewater treatment plant is currently being built in Washington, DC.

The DEMON®-system was developed and patented by the University of Innsbruck 11 years ago. Today this successful technology has been implemented in about 70...

Im Focus: Computational high-throughput screening finds hard magnets containing less rare earth elements

Permanent magnets are very important for technologies of the future like electromobility and renewable energy, and rare earth elements (REE) are necessary for their manufacture. The Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg, Germany, has now succeeded in identifying promising approaches and materials for new permanent magnets through use of an in-house simulation process based on high-throughput screening (HTS). The team was able to improve magnetic properties this way and at the same time replaced REE with elements that are less expensive and readily available. The results were published in the online technical journal “Scientific Reports”.

The starting point for IWM researchers Wolfgang Körner, Georg Krugel, and Christian Elsässer was a neodymium-iron-nitrogen compound based on a type of...

Im Focus: Atomic precision: technologies for the next-but-one generation of microchips

In the Beyond EUV project, the Fraunhofer Institutes for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen and for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF in Jena are developing key technologies for the manufacture of a new generation of microchips using EUV radiation at a wavelength of 6.7 nm. The resulting structures are barely thicker than single atoms, and they make it possible to produce extremely integrated circuits for such items as wearables or mind-controlled prosthetic limbs.

In 1965 Gordon Moore formulated the law that came to be named after him, which states that the complexity of integrated circuits doubles every one to two...

Im Focus: Researchers demonstrate size quantization of Dirac fermions in graphene

Characterization of high-quality material reveals important details relevant to next generation nanoelectronic devices

Quantum mechanics is the field of physics governing the behavior of things on atomic scales, where things work very differently from our everyday world.

Im Focus: Graphene: A quantum of current

When current comes in discrete packages: Viennese scientists unravel the quantum properties of the carbon material graphene

In 2010 the Nobel Prize in physics was awarded for the discovery of the exceptional material graphene, which consists of a single layer of carbon atoms...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Networking 4.0: International Laser Technology Congress AKL’16 Shows New Ways of Cooperations

24.05.2016 | Event News

Challenges of rural labor markets

20.05.2016 | Event News

International expert meeting “Health Business Connect” in France

19.05.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

11 million Euros for research into magnetic field sensors for medical diagnostics

27.05.2016 | Awards Funding

Fungi – a promising source of chemical diversity

27.05.2016 | Life Sciences

New Model of T Cell Activation

27.05.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>