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    Swiss laboratories make cotton fire resistant and maintain its gentleness to the skin

    Scientists at Empa, the Swiss Federal Institute for Materials Science and Technology, have developed a new way to make cotton fire resistant while maintaining skin-friendly properties. State-of-the-art flame-retardant cotton fabrics are uncomfortable to wear because they emit formaldehyde and reduce the ability of cotton to absorb water.

    Empa scientists have created a physically and chemically independent network of flame retardants inside the cotton fiber. This approach retains the inherently positive properties of cotton fibers, accounting for three-quarters of the world’s demand for natural fibers in clothing and household fibers. Cotton is gentle on the skin as it absorbs a significant amount of water and can maintain a favorable microclimate for the skin.

    Protective clothing is the most important barrier for firefighters and other rescuers. For that purpose, cotton is mainly used as an inner fiber layer that requires additional properties. For example, it must be fire resistant or protected from biological contaminants. It should also not be hydrophobic, creating an unpleasant microclimate. These additional properties can be incorporated into cotton fibers with appropriate chemical modifications.

    Scientists at Empa, the Swiss Federal Institute for Materials Science and Technology, have developed a new way to make cotton fire resistant while maintaining skin-friendly properties. State-of-the-art flame-retardant cotton fabrics are uncomfortable to wear because they emit formaldehyde and reduce the ability of cotton to absorb water.

    “In the past, there has always been a compromise to make cotton fire resistant,” says Sabyasachi Gaan, a chemist and polymer expert at Empa’s Advanced Fibers lab. Industrial wash-durable flame-retardant cotton is produced by treating the fabric with a flame retardant that chemically binds to the cellulose in the cotton. Currently, the textile industry has no choice but to utilize formaldehyde-based chemicals. Formaldehyde is classified as a carcinogen. This has been an open issue for decades. Formaldehyde-based flame retardant treatment is durable, but has additional drawbacks. These treatments chemically block the -OH groups of cellulose, reducing the ability of cotton to absorb water, resulting in unpleasant fibers.

    Gaan, who is familiar with the chemistry of cotton fibers and has spent many years developing flame retardants based on phosphorus chemistry, which is already used in many industrial applications, is in the form of an independent network inside the cotton. I found an easy way to fix phosphorus.

    The new phosphorus chemistry can also be used to develop other materials such as hydrogels that release drugs when the pH changes. These gels may help treat slow-healing wounds. In such wounds, an increase in the pH of the skin surface triggers a new phosphorus-based gel, releasing a drug or dye that warns doctors and nurses of the problem. Empa is patented for the production of such hydrogels.

    Gaan and his team have created a trifunctional phosphorus compound (trivinylphosphine oxide) that has the ability to react only with specially added molecules (nitrogen compounds such as piperazine) to form a unique network inside the cotton. I used it. This makes the cotton permanently fire resistant without blocking the preferred -OH groups. In addition, the physical phosphine oxide network also likes water. This flame retardant treatment does not contain carcinogenic formaldehyde, which puts textile workers at risk during textile production. The phosphine oxide network is not washed away. After 50 washes, 95% of the flame retardant network was still on the fabric.

    To add additional protective properties to the flame-retardant cotton, the team incorporated in-situ generated silver nanoparticles into the fabric. It works in a one-step process with the formation of a phosphine oxide network. The silver nanoparticles provide antibacterial properties to the fibers and withstand 50 wash cycles.

    “We used a simple approach to fix the phosphine oxide network inside the cellulose,” says Gaan. “In our laboratory experiments, cotton was first treated with an aqueous solution of phosphorus and nitrogen compounds and then steamed in a ready-to-use pressure cooker to promote the cross-linking reaction between phosphorus and nitrogen molecules.” The application process is compatible with the equipment used in the textile industry. “Steaming textiles after dyeing, printing and finishing is a normal step in the textile industry, so no additional investment is required to apply our process,” Gaan adds.

    The newly developed phosphorus chemistry and its applications are patented. “Two important hurdles remain. For future commercialization, we need to find a suitable chemical manufacturer that can produce and supply trivinylphosphine oxides. In addition, trivinylphosphine oxides are available in Europe. Must be registered with REACH. “

    Fiber2Fashion News Desk (SV)

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    Swiss laboratories make cotton fire resistant and maintain its gentleness to the skin

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    The post Swiss laboratories make cotton fire resistant and maintain its gentleness to the skin appeared first on Eminetra.

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