Novel research investigating the modification of cotton fabrics to a flame-retardant state has been undertaken by a group of researchers and submitted for publication within the journal, Carbohydrate Polymers. This research currently available as a pre-proof focuses on the use of nanotechnology through the use of silver nanocubes and boronate polymers.
Study: Facile fabrication of multifunctional cotton fabric by [email protected] polymer/crosslinked chitosan. Image Credit: FXQuadro/Shutterstock.com
The advancement of research has encompassed functional textiles for high-performing and sustainable fabrics. These are developed with specific aims and objectives in mind through incorporating properties including self-cleaning, super-hydrophobicity, antibacterial activity and even crease recovery.
Additionally, with consumer awareness being increased, the demand for materials that have a low impact on the environment as well as with low energy consumption and toxicity, have also increased.
Cotton fabrics are generally thought of as more desirable than other fabrics due to being a natural product, allowing this material to be more sustainable. However, other benefits can also include its insulator property, stability and durability as well as providing comfort. This material is also hypoallergenic, enabling global use due to decreased risk of allergic reactions as well as possible applications within medical products including bandages.
The desire to modify cotton for producing a multifunctional product that is more specifically designed for consumers has been a focus of researchers in recent years. Additionally, the advancement in nanotechnology has led to this development including the alteration of cotton fabrics to enhance various properties, such as using silica nanoparticles. This has been shown to increase the super-hydrophobicity and result in a water-repellent and stain-resistant clothing product for potential use for medical employees.
The research, however, has explored the use of nanomaterials for enhancing the properties of cotton fabrics to also include flame-retardancy.
Flame-Retardant Cotton Fabric Research
The researchers have stated the conventional method of adding flame-retardant properties into cotton fabrics is through surface modification, which can include various approaches from coating to grafting.
The team aimed for experimental goals for their multifunctional cotton fabric with the following properties, flame retardancy, bacterial inhibition, electromagnetic wave (EMW) absorption as well as increasing the mechanical characteristic of the product.
The experiment consisted of producing nanoparticles through coating silver nanocubes with a borate polymer ([email protected]), which was then hybridized with chitosan; the desired properties were incorporated through immersing the cotton fabric into a solution of both the nanoparticles and chitosan.
The results of this combination produced a good level of flame retardancy within the cotton fabric as well as low combustion heat release. The novel multifunctional cotton fabric was tested for its stability and durability through abrasion resistance and water laundering tests.
The flame retardancy level of this material was also tested through a vertical burning test and cone calorimeter test. This property can be seen as the most significant for health and safety reasons and with cotton being highly flammable and completely burning within a matter of seconds, the addition of this characteristic can enhance the desirability associated with this material.
Flame retardant materials can extinguish the initial flames of a fire quite quickly and this highly desirable property was seen in the novel multifunctional cotton fabric created by the researchers with the [email protected]/CS incorporation. When testing this property on the novel material, the flame self-extinguished after 12 seconds of fire erosion.
The translation of this research into real-world applications through being incorporated into universal cotton fabrics and clothing may revolutionize the way clothing is created. The specific design of this high-performing material would increase the health and safety of many individuals in hazardous environments. Protection from clothing may be a significant factor in aiding an individual caught aflame to stay alive.
The safety aspect of this research is monumental and providing a flame-retardant property into clothing may save many lives. The U.S. Fire Administration has stated that the 10-year fire death rate has increased to 3% from 2010 to 2019, with 2019 carrying 3,515 deaths. The potential to possibly survive a fire or increase the probability through the use of flame-retardant clothing can be comforting for many individuals that live in environments with a higher likelihood of fire hazards. However, this would also be useful in many industries for replacing conventional cotton uniforms, such as in the medical field, electronics and even in factories.
This revolutionary research holds great promise for the future of multifunctional cotton fabrics and the ability to create a fabric with more than one property, such as durability and antibacterial characteristics, which can serve consumer needs on a global basis.
L, Xia., J, Dai., X, Wang., M, Xue., Y, Xu., C, Yuan., and L, Dai. (2022) Facile fabrication of multifunctional cotton fabric by [email protected] polymer/crosslinked chitosan, Carbohydrate Polymers. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0144861722002880
Aslam, S., Hussain, T., Ashraf, M., Tabassum, M., Rehman, A., Iqbal, K. and Javid, A., (2019) Multifunctional Finishing of Cotton Fabric. Autex Research Journal, 19(2), pp.191-200. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1515/aut-2018-0048
U.S. Fire Administration. (2022) U.S. Fire Deaths, Fire Death Rates and Risk of Dying in a Fire. [online] Available at: https://www.usfa.fema.gov/data/statistics/fire_death_rates.html