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 Global threat to primates concerns us all
19.01.2017 | Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH - Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung

nachricht Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

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: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>