Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Polymer Research At NC State Could Lead To Better Protective Clothing

Date:
March 26, 2001
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
Scientists at North Carolina State University have found new ways to make protective fabrics -- such as those used in flame-retardant children’s clothing or odor-inhibiting socks and shirts -- last longer and work better. Instead of treating the surface of the fabrics with protective polymer coatings that can wear thin and lose effectiveness from use or repeated washing, the NC State researchers are imbedding the polymers that make up the fabric itself with various additives.

Scientists at North Carolina State University have found new ways to make protective fabrics -- such as those used in flame-retardant children’s clothing or odor-inhibiting socks and shirts -- last longer and work better.

Instead of treating the surface of the fabrics with protective polymer coatings that can wear thin and lose effectiveness from use or repeated washing, the NC State researchers are imbedding the polymers that make up the fabric itself with various additives. Laboratory tests show that fabrics and films made this way provide greater protection and retain their flame-retardant or antibacterial qualities longer than materials treated with conventional surface coatings.

The new process could be used on fabrics and films in a wide range of products, from children’s clothing and odor-inhibiting socks and shirts, to antibacterial medical gowns, dressings and sutures.

The research team is headed by Dr. Alan Tonelli, KoSa professor of polymer science at NC State’s College of Textiles.

In the new process, Tonelli and his students first form an inclusion compound -- a high-temperature crystal that contains the desired polymer additives. This "host crystal," as Tonelli calls it, typically is made of cyclodextrins, cyclic starch molecules composed of interlocked glucose sugar rings. Cyclodextrin molecules have a hole in their centers, much like doughnuts, and naturally stack one on top of another to form long tubes into which the additives are imbedded.

After Tonelli and his students form the cyclodextrin-inclusion compound, they melt-press the crystals into a polyester film. Tests have shown a significant increase in the flame retardancy of polyester films created this way.

"We were convinced, just based on these results, that this is much better, much more effective and should provide longer lasting protection," Tonelli said. Since the crystals are part of the film or fabric, washing would have far less of an impact on its effectiveness than typical flame retardants, which lose protection with repeated washing.

Another possible application for the process is the use of antibacterial polymers. Fibers imbedded with antibacterial cyclodextrin-inclusion compound crystals could be used in socks or shirts, or any other fabric that is exposed to perspiration, to reduce the likelihood of body odors.

Tonelli suggests there are medical uses as well, including medical gowns and sutures made with antibacterial polymer imbedded fibers. "If the sutures were antibacterial -- that would be great, you’d never get any infection around the wound, whether it’s internal or external," Tonelli said.

In one test, Tonelli’s students used polyesters embedded with the cyclodextrin-inclusion compound formed with the active ingredient from Neosporin first aid cream to make polyester films and fibers that were exposed to the E.coli bacteria. Laboratory tests found the treated films and fibers prevented the growth of the bacteria.

The researchers are also investigating ways of laminating fabrics with polymers containing cyclodextrin-inclusion compounds. The crystal inclusion compound containing the antibacterial is ground up into a powder, mixed with a polymer powder, and then sprinkled onto a fabric. A second layer of fabric is laid on top, then exposed to heat and pressure. Tonelli is encouraged by this technique.

"In our experience the lamination route seems to be very, very favorable, just by virtue of how it’s done," he said. "It ought to make the fabrics antibacterial, it ought to do a nice job in flame retardancy, it might be good for who knows what else, and the additives don’t necessarily have to be released from the embedded cyclodextrin inclusion compound crystals."

An underlying aim of Tonelli’s research is to uncover more about how polymers behave. The imbedding technique he and his students have devised allows scientists to isolate polymers, even those that are normally bunched together, inside the narrow channels formed by the stacked cyclodextrins. "We like to study the properties of these individual polymer chains that are trapped inside. How is that behavior different from when you have a collection of polymer chains?" Tonelli said. Learning more about the behaviors of long-chain polymers could enable scientists to develop computer models that would allow them to more easily identify the proper polymer needed for a given application, he explains.

Tonelli’s research is sponsored by the U.S. Army and the National Textiles Center, a consortium of textiles colleges funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Polymer Research At NC State Could Lead To Better Protective Clothing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010322232505.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2001, March 26). Polymer Research At NC State Could Lead To Better Protective Clothing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010322232505.htm
North Carolina State University. "Polymer Research At NC State Could Lead To Better Protective Clothing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010322232505.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans

AP (July 24, 2014) TSA administrator, John Pistole's took part in the Aspen Security Forum 2014, where he answered questions on lifting of the ban on flights into Israel's Tel Aviv airport and whether politics played a role in lifting the ban. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers

AP (July 24, 2014) Mobile phone companies and communities across the country are going to new lengths to disguise those unsightly cellphone towers. From a church bell tower to a flagpole, even a pencil, some towers are trying to make a point. (July 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

Algonquin Power Goes Activist on Its Target Gas Natural

TheStreet (July 23, 2014) When The Deal's Amanda Levin exclusively reported that Gas Natural had been talking to potential suitors, the Ohio company responded with a flat denial, claiming its board had not talked to anyone about a possible sale. Lo and behold, Canadian utility Algonquin Power and Utilities not only had approached the company, but it did it three times. Its last offer was for $13 per share as Gas Natural's was trading at a 60-day moving average of about $12.50 per share. Now Algonquin, which has a 4.9% stake in Gas Natural, has taken its case to shareholders, calling on them to back its proposals or, possibly, a change in the target's board. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins