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Cool New Metafabric

Cool: as in a new clothing textile which may one day offer a kind of alternative to air-conditioning.

Last year, a graduate student from Zhejiang University in China donned a seemingly plain white vest and sat in the direct sunlight for one hour, whilst researchers monitored his body temperature with infrared cameras and sensors on his skin, reports Wired. Half of the vest was made from ordinary cotton; the other of metafabric, a new, experimental textile made of synthetic fibers and nanoparticles that reflect light and heat.

After an hour in the sun, the half of the student covered in the metafabric was nearly 5 degrees Celsius (41F) cooler than the side covered by the cotton vest - as reported earlier this month in Science.

Metafabric is the latest development in a broader emerging field of textiles for personal heat management, clothing that can heat or cool the wearer. Researchers hope that these textiles will not only enhance personal comfort, but reduce injury and death from extreme heat.

Textiles for personal heat management may one day offer a kind of alternative to air-conditioning, which accounts for approximately 10 percent of global electricity consumption.

In a similar vein, the whitest-ever paint has been produced by academic researchers in the US, with the aim of boosting the cooling of buildings and tackling the climate crisis. The new paint reflects 98 percent of sunlight as well as radiating infrared heat through the atmosphere into space. In tests, it cooled surfaces by 4.5C below the ambient temperature, even in strong sunlight. The researchers said the paint could be on the market in one or two years.


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