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MIT researchers develop new textile to reduce industry’s carbon footprint


Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believe that the new textile produced by them that can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the fashion industry and global plastic waste. As per a report by the Chemistry World, produced from polyethylene, the textile has better cooling properties than cotton or linen, is more stain resistant than polyester, is easily recyclable and can potentially be made from recycled materials.

The textile industry has a huge carbon footprint and is responsible for 5–10 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The industry once depended entirely on natural fibers such as cotton, linen and wool, but in the past century synthetic polymers such as polyester and nylon have become increasingly widespread.

Polyethylene, however, has been largely overlooked. Svetlana Boriskina, Materials Engineer,Massachusetts Institute of Technology says Polyethylene can be .used as protection against rain and in garments that prevents moisture from entering the body.

Moreover, the structural simplicity of polyethylene gives the textiles much higher infrared transparency than fabrics woven from more complex polymers, allowing for better radiative cooling.

Boroskina says, the textile industry is increasingly moving away from the traditional wet-dyeing process, which creates a real risk to the environment’. Instead, colorants are incorporated into molten materials before they are spun into fibers. The dye-resistance of the fibers even had the advantage of making their textile more stain-resistant than cotton, linen or polyester, allowing it to be washed more economically at lower temperatures.

The team is now working towards the commercialization of polymer – which could be produced from recycled polyethylene.