Personal Protective Equipment Market to Revolutionize with New Approach which allows Cotton to Retain its Comfortable Quality while Gaining New Properties resulting in Extremely Efficient PPE

Posted On September 22, 2021     

Emergency service personnel like firefighters, medical staff etc., require personal, protective clothing as a necessary barrier. In such situations, cotton is a popular option for the inner textile layer; however, it also needs additional properties to be effective. For instance, it has to be fireproof or capable of protecting from contaminants. Present state- flame retardant cotton textiles are unsuitable because they emit formaldehyde and are extremely uncomfortable to wear.
A new development might change the situation for the better as researchers have unveiled a new chemical process capable of turning cotton into a –fire-resistant fabric. The exciting aspect of the study is that while gaining new properties, cotton simultaneously maintains its skin-friendly comfort level. It does so by creating a chemically and physically independent network of flame retardants within the fibers. The approach could revolutionize the Personal Protective Equipment Market. It retains the inherent favourable properties related to cotton fibers while also gaining new ones making the PPE extremely efficient in granting bodily protection to professionals.

The team created the fabric by utilizing a trivinylphosphine oxide (a tri-functional phosphorous compound), which reacts when particular molecules are added for forming its network inside cotton. The process makes the cotton perpetually fire-resistant without being a hurdle for the favourable -OH groups. Moreover, the physical phosphine oxide network also prefers water. The team's experiment on the fabric demonstrated that even after laundering the fabric 50 times, 95% of the flame retardant network existed within the fabric.

The team added situ generated silver nanoparticles within the fabric to add new protective functionalities to the flame retardant cotton. The particles work fantastically in a one-step process together with producing the phosphine oxide networks. Silver nanoparticles facilitate fiber with antimicrobial properties while giving it the ability to survive 50 laundry cycles.

The researchers revealed their approach to fixing the phosphine oxide networks within the cellulose was highly simplistic. Their lab tests showed that cotton needs to be treated primarily with an aqueous solution comprising nitrogen and phosphorous compounds. After that, it is steamed in a pressure cooker so that crosslinking reaction occurs. 

The best part of the application process is that it is compatible with industrial equipment already in use. Steaming textiles once they are dyed, printed and finished is typical for all textile industries. So, there would be no additional investment required for manufacturers for the application of the new process.

The novel approach is a big feat towards providing excellent quality PPEs to professionals. However, numerous obstacles must yet be solved before the process can be employed commercially.

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