Scientists develop air-conditioning clothes that regulate heat

James Marshall
February 11, 2019

Because these changes are triggered by the conditions in which the fabric resides, the user automatically benefits from the temperature regulation without having to do anything. When conditions become cooler and drier, the fabric reduces the heat that escapes.

The fabric engages an action called "gating" the body's infrared radiation via the use of conductive metal coated onto a special type of engineered yarn. One of the thread materials absorbs moisture while the other repels it. When exposed to humidity, the yarn gets closer and it will make the pores in the fabric open. As the body cools down (and is less sweaty or humid), the dynamic thermal gating mechanism works in reverse to trap heat.

"This material was created with the idea of making sure that someone can remain comfortable". "For all of history, the only way to regulate the radiator has been to take clothes off or put clothes on". If someone is sitting in an office and they feel hot, they don't need to turn on the air conditioning or change their clothing.

That's exactly what researchers from the University of Maryland seem to have accomplished with an incredibly unique kind of new fabric that actually changes depending on your body temperature. The cloth, developed by the Japanese researchers, had two fans built on the backside.

Scientists are further planning to modify it more before it comes to market.

According to the Science paper, this is first textile shown to be able to regulate heat exchange with the environment. The technology centers around infrared radiation, which is the main way the body releases its heat. "It gives off heat quickly", said Min Ouyang, a professor of physics at UMD and the paper's other corresponding author.

The scientists hope their work will lead to what they call "comfort-adjusting clothing", though they say more work is needed before stores sell shirts that react to San Francisco's maddening weather.

"If you're hot and sweating, this textile will respond..." However, this is the first demonstration of a material that can change both porosity and infrared transparency, thereby providing more comfort in response to environmental conditions.

This work was supported by the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), U.S. Department of Energy, as part of its "Delivering Efficient Local Thermal Amenities (DELTA)" program (Award No. DE-AR0000527).

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