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Can’t stand the heat? This new fabric will cool wearers down

Let’s face it—it’s getting pretty hot out here, and we’re going to have to adapt to these warming temperatures. Luckily, engineers Ma Yaoguang and Tao Guangming, from Zhejiang University and Huazhong University of Science and Technology respectively, have invented a textile that cools wearers down by up to 42 degrees Fahrenheit (or 5 degrees Celsius).

While there are plenty of options for clothing that keeps you warm, this invention now offers us relief from the sweltering heatwave days that we face today (and will most certainly have to deal with in the future).

Science Magazine reports that the textile cools the objects and their surroundings through radiative cooling. This signifies that even when it may appear like a regular shirt, in reality, the shirt is also a device that works like a mirror.

Radiative cooling is a technique that has been previously used in roofs, plastic films, wood, and special paints, but has not been used in the textiles industry. The fabric, which is made of polylactic acid and synthetic fiber blend with titanium dioxide nanoparticles, also reflects UV light as well as visible and Near-Infrared Light (NIR), which helps the cooling process along.

A 2017 study conducted at Stanford University trialed a fabric that managed to cool the wearer by three degrees Celsius, however, to work the fabric had to be very thin which raised questions about its durability as a wearable material.

Now, the new textile will be tested to determine how effective the new fabric is at cooling the wearer while they are standing or walking, and not directly facing the sky, like in previous trials.

Evelyn Wang, a mechanical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told TWL News that “this kind of approach has advantages because it can enable a user of a broader range of materials and feels much more like cotton, which is important for the user.”

Yaoguang and Guangming are now in discussions with textile manufacturers and clothing brands that are interested in their invention.

The duo estimates that the new material will increase production costs by only ten percent, which means that prices will still be reasonable for mass consumption. Yaoguang tells Science Magazine that the affordable costs mean that “everybody can get a T-shirt… and the cost is basically the same as their old stuff… it can benefit everybody.”

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