Industry Market Trends

Clothes that Cleanse the Air

Feb 22, 2012

Sky with cloudsWill eco-fashion become a mainstream green solution? Though fashion trends come and go, a new type of air-cleansing approach to clothing could leave more of a lasting impression on the environment.

It's not on the consumer market yet, but the UK eco-apparel venture Catalytic Clothing merges science with style to purify surrounding air with a deeply technical process. It began when Tony Ryan, a scientist and pro-vice chancellor at the UK's University of Sheffield, and artist/designer Helen Storey teamed with Ecover, a company that offers sustainable apparel solutions.

As Ecover explains, the team adds "a 'photocatalyst' to fabric (such as denim) that is then turned into fashionable garments. A photocatalyst is a clever chemical that gains the energy it needs to be active from light; when this new material is exposed to that sunlight, it breaks down pollutants in the air."

In this case, the photocatalyst is titanium dioxide, and as CNN Eco Solutions explains, "When the ultraviolet light hits titanium dioxide, it causes pollutants to break down into non-harmful chemicals."

Such a process works well with denim and may combine sustainability with fashion in other apparel items, but the downside has yet to be determined.

Here's more on the scientific background and process.