Exposure to chemical agents is a possibility not only during warfare, but is a reality for many working in factories and other facilities. Researchers at North Carolina State University and the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center have now developed a new type of coating, designed to be applied to textile fibers, that can grab onto and contain a variety of dangerous chemicals.
The technology works even under high humidity levels, something that has proven to be a challenge for many filtration systems, sensors, and other devices. The new coating works with many industrial and chemical warfare agents, and may even be useful for clinicians handling dangerous chemicals, such as chemo agents. The coating is able to capture a blistering agent within 80 percent relative humidity while also being able to grab onto ammonia gas, something that may be of particular use for gas masks and other respiratory devices.
All this is possible thanks to metal-organic framework coatings that are synthesized right over the fibers, allowing them to be used in clothing and many other things that people take to work or battle. The metal-organic frameworks are essentially functional devices that can, for these purposes, break down or lock down different chemicals, all in the presence of the chemical known as water.
Some details according to NC State:
The team created a water-stable copper (Cu)-based MOF film. Instead of working with a powder source, researchers used a solid film deposited on the fiber, which captured three times more ammonia gas than the same MOF powder.
Electron microscope images showed MOFs in crystal formations that grew out radially from the fiber – a distinctive shape that hadn’t been previously reported. The MOFs bonded strongly with the surface of the polypropylene fibers, resisting flaking when handled in the lab and when swept with a nylon brush.