BBC News

Sheffield University develops clothes to 'purify' air

image captionTony Ryan and Helen Storey previously worked on a project developing clothing that dissolved

Scientists and fashion designers have teamed up to develop technology which could help reduce air pollutants.

The University of Sheffield together with the London College of Fashion says it has created a product which when washed into clothing purifies the air.

The project, Catalytic Clothing, uses science and fashion to explore how textiles can be used.

University of Sheffield's Prof Tony Ryan said the technology was "user-friendly and technically excellent."

Those behind Catalytic Clothing say it removes nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, both of which are emitted by industry and motor vehicles.

Fabric conditioner

The purifying element which contains the raw material titanium dioxide is washed into the clothing as part of an additive to a fabric conditioner. Once the clothing dries it is ready to remove the pollutants straight away, the professors say.

Professor Helen Storey MBE, a practising artist and designer at London College of Fashion, explained how the technology would work in everyday life.

"As you walk down the street you are purifying the air and passing cleaner air on to the person behind you by the movement of your own walking," she said.


The teams are expanding on the technology that already exists in paints, cement and paving stones, which they say already possess the de-polluting properties.

"We're taking the technology but giving it a completely new use because our clothing has a bigger surface area," said Prof Storey.

The two universities have worked together previously on a project called Wonderland, which created clothing that dissolved in water.

The process which has been described as 'deeply technical' is estimated to take a further two years to complete, however there are no plans for the product to be released commercially.

More on this story

  • Science Explained: What is a nanometre?

Around the BBC

Related Internet Links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.