Fibrenamics and AFF Present Intelligent Sweater that Detects, Alerts and Protects the User from Chemical and Biological Agents
With the desire to broaden the type of products they commercialize and invest in new market niches, A. Ferreira & Filhos, S.A, a company dedicated to knitting knitwear for children, men, women, and home textiles, sought in Fibrenamics - the University of Minho, the technical and scientific know-how needed to develop an innovative textile product.
The CBPRO_Uniforms project, consisted on the concession of fibrous materials with active protection against chemical and biological agents, using nanotechnology, for application in personal protective clothing. The equipment developed, in addition to acting as a barrier against chemical agents and inhibiting the proliferation of biological agents, also has the ability to warn the user of dangerous situations to which he may be exposed, through an alert system based on color change when in contact with this type of agents. For João Bessa, Technology Manager at Fibrenamics:
"This project is a clear scientific and technological breakthrough, as it not only protects the individual but also warns him when he is facing harmful threats."
Going into detail, in this development, a multilayer mesh was developed to act as a barrier against the penetration of chemical agents. This multilayer mesh has a maximum performance level (3) regarding to chemical agent repellency properties, according to ISO 6530, EN ISO 14325, and ISO 13034 standards. Besides that, the fibrous structure developed was functionalized with zinc oxide nanoparticles by knife coating in order to have antibacterial properties, having been observed an inhibition effect of bacterial activity greater than 70%. Regarding the technology for warning of exposure to dangerous situations, two mechanisms were also developed with the capacity to change color due to exposure to chemical or biological agents. Therefore, Italian polyester meshes were printed with halochromic agents (Methyl Orange and Bromocresol Purple pigments) that are yellow in color, but change to red and dark blue on contact with acidic and basic agents, respectively. The same mesh was also printed with Prussian Blue, which takes on different colors depending on its oxidation or reduction state. As a result, this compound has a blue color, and when in contact with biological agents it changes to a white color. The meshes printed with the two warning systems were applied as a patch on the sleeve of the sweater, however, they can be placed anywhere on the body.
Figure 1 - Prototype of CBPRO_Uniforms.
With the completion of this project, an innovative and disruptive product resulted because, unlike other products on the market, which only provide chemical and biological protection, CBPRO_Uniforms has the ability to detect, alert, protect and degrade harmful agents.
In the point of view of Noël Ferreira, Administrator of A. Ferreira & Filhos, S.A, from this development:
"AFF will have as its main competitive advantage the insertion in new markets, as it is the case of the technical clothing sector for protection and, given the innovative and differentiating nature of the product developed, an undoubtedly impact on the increase in turnover."
See the CBPRO_Uniforms project video below.