Thermally Conductive Textiles for Cooling Down

Thermally Conductive Textiles for Cooling Down

Author: Liam Critchley

Textiles that are thermally conductive can help to adjust the wearer’s body temperature and provide personal cooling. However, many of the textiles created cannot withstand temperatures above 200 °C, which limits their potential for applications other than personal heat regulation in ambient conditions. Uses in firefighting or the military, for example, require a high temperature resistance.

Weiwei Lei, Dan Liu, Deakin University, Waurn Ponds, Australia, and colleagues have created a method for the production of a highly temperature-resistant, thermally conductive nanocomposite textile. The material is composed of amino-functionalized boron-nitride nanosheets and polyimide fibers. The “green” electrospinning method for producing the fibers uses aqueous solutions and, thus, avoids the use of toxic solvents. Both the functionalized boron nitride and polyimide were dispersed into appropriate aqueous solvents to obtain two solutions. The boron nitride solution was then concentrated and mixed with the polyimide solution to create a viscous solution that could be electrospun, using a voltage of 20 kV. Following the electrospinning process, the fiber mats were crosslinked in a furnace under a nitrogen atmosphere to give the final  textile.

The boron nitride-polyimide textile has a high thermal conductivity of 13.1 W m–1 K–1 at temperatures up to 300 °C. The textile provides an efficient cooling effect through a thermal spreading mechanism. Other beneficial properties of the textile include its low specific weight, softness, and hydrophobicity. The higher temperature resistance makes it suited to extreme temperature environments, e.g., for space suits.


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