Water-resistant fabrics are essential for everything from waterproof clothing to military tents. The problem is that existing water-repellent coatings do not degrade in the environment and accumulate in the human body and are therefore likely to be gradually replaced for safety reasons.
A team of MIT professors Creep Varanasi and Karen Gleason have developed a new coating that not only makes natural fabrics water repellent, but also more efficient, stronger and cleaner than existing coatings. The new coating works on many different types of fabrics, Prof Varanasi says, including cotton, nylon and linen, and even materials such as paper, opening up many potential uses.
“Most fabrics that are called ‘water repellent’ are actually water resistant,” says Varanasi. – If you stand in the rain, eventually the water will seep. That is, the task was to make the drops really bounce off. ” The new coating is approaching that goal, he said.
The developed coated fabrics have been tested in the laboratory and passed the standard rain test. The materials were then bombarded with other liquids, including coffee, ketchup, sodium hydroxide, and various acids – and reflected them well.
The team now plans to continue to work on optimizing the chemical formula for the best possible water repellency and hopes to license the proprietary technology for existing fabrics and apparel.