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Textiles for Radiation Protection
March 27, 2013   
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Textiles designed to protect people from electromagnetic fields, static electricity as well as ultraviolet, visible, infrared and microwave radiation are being created in a project by a research consortium led by the Textile Research Institute in the central city of £ód¼.

The new modified textiles may even save lives in cases where people are exposed to harmful radiation over many years in their work environment.

The project led by the Textile Research Institute is called Envirotex and is due to be finished Nov. 30. It is expected to result in the development of hi-tech textiles for special purposes. These will be used in protective clothing for people exposed to natural and artificial sources of UV radiation, for instance roadbuilders, farmers and bank tellers. The researchers also aim to develop special UV screens to help protect museum collections and old prints as well as textile materials that will absorb electromagnetic fields in the frequency range from 30 MHz to more than 10 GHz.

The full name of the project is “New-generation barrier materials for protecting people against harmful environmental effects.”

Some of the funding for the Envirotex project comes from the European Regional Development Fund under the European Union’s Innovative Economy Operational Program. Other institutions involved in the project, besides the Textile Research Institute, include the Wroc³aw University of Technology, the Moratex Institute of Security Technology, the Poznań University of Technology, the Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine in £ód¼, and the Central Institute for Labor Protection in Warsaw. In all, the project involves six research institutions from across Poland and experts on textiles, dyes, pigments and polymers, in addition to experts on mechanical and chemical technology, occupational health and safety, dermatology, electronics, physics and electrical engineering.

By enhancing the protective properties of textiles, the scientists want to help people who wear both everyday and industrial clothing in hazardous conditions and harsh environments.

The total budget of the Envirotex project is zl.15.4 million, including zl.13.1 million from the European Regional Development Fund and zl.2.3 million from Poland’s National Center for Research and Development.

According to the scientists, the materials they are working on are needed in almost every area of life these days. For instance, they are needed in operating rooms to cover sensitive electronic equipment whose readings may be disturbed by electromagnetic waves generated by other devices.

The researchers have employed new coating methods and developed new organic and non-organic compounds that absorb UV radiation, according to the project manager, Jadwiga Sójka-Ledakowicz, Ph.D. The team is working on textiles that will protect users against both natural and artificial ultraviolet light sources. The latter are particularly harmful for those exposed for a long time to anti-bacterial lamps in hospitals and those using special lamps to check the validity of banknotes, for example. The researchers want this harmful light to be absorbed by the material before it reaches the skin.

The researchers have designed pieces of protective clothing with UV absorbers: T-shirts, headgear, hand guards, gloves as well as window blinds and covers to protect old prints and artwork.

Yet another result of the project are specialized testing methods to assess just how well the newly developed textiles block electromagnetic radiation, and also to see how well the newly developed materials protect users against the harmful effects of UV radiation emitted by natural and artificial sources—across the entire UV spectrum, including UV-C.

For now, there have been 38 publications related to the project. The results of the project have also been discussed at 24 international conferences. The new magnetron-based textile coating technique developed by the researchers is innovative, as are the solutions used in the production of textiles for protecting users against static electricity.

The results of the Envirotex project have been showcased at innovation exhibitions in Poland and abroad, winning multiple medals and other awards. They have also been the subject of 15 Polish and three international patent applications.
Danuta K. Gruszczyńska
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