Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

Moments of Innovation

UK team hopes to clean up with anti-pollution super soap

Sunday, Nov 25, 2012 - 02:49

Nov. 25 - Negotiators at this week's Doha climate change conference who are seeking new ways of fighting air pollution, might want to look at an idea being developed at the University of Sheffield and London College of Fashion. A scientist and fashion designer have teamed up to produce a pollution-busting laundry detergent containing nanoparticles that literally clean the air around them. Jim Drury has more.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

Professor Helen Storey is wearing jeans that clean the air around them. She calls them cataylsed jeans. The former fashion designer believes the laundry detergent they were washed in could contribute to a significant improvement of air quality. Working alongside chemistry professor Tony Ryan, Storey's developed Catclo, a detergent additive that sticks to clothes' surface fibres and neutralises airborne nitrogen oxides. Ryan came up with the idea at an academic meeting. SOUNDBITE (English) TONY RYAN, PROFESSOR OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY AT SHEFFIELD UNIVERSITY, AND CO-DEVELOPER OF CATCLO, SAYING: "I sat down and calculated the surface area of my suit in this really boring meeting I had to go to and when I came back I had the answer of how we could use low-grade energy. We'd turn people into catalyst supports, so that they were covered in catalyst and could wander around using light and the surface of their clothes to clean up." Catclo contains nanoparticles of titanium a thousand times thinner than a human hair. When clothes are washed in it, the nanoparticles remain within the fabric, so they only have to be washed with the additive once. The by-product - harmless, water-soluble nitrates - wash away when the clothes are laundered. Normal detergent can be used in subsequent washes. SOUNDBITE (English) TONY RYAN, PROFESSOR OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY AT SHEFFIELD UNIVERSITY, AND CO-DEVELOPER OF CATCLO, SAYING: "The regular questions are: 'am I absorbing dirt, am I walking around getting dirtier?' and we know from market research that customers don't want to wear self-cleaning clothes because they want to wash them, they want to feel clean. And the answer is no, the pollution's just passing you by, but when it comes into contact with you you neutralise it." When catalysed garments are worn outside, light shines on the titanium particles and excites the electrons on the particle surface. These react with oxygen, encouraging lone oxygen atoms to suck nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide out of the atmosphere. Helen Storey, who counts Madonna among her former fashion clients, developed a passion for clothing science in the 90s. She regularly wears clothes washed with the additive and says any damage to their quality is undetectable. SOUNDBITE (English) HELEN STOREY, PROFESSOR OF FASHION SCIENCE AT THE LONDON COLLEGE OF FASHION, AND CO-DEVELOPER OF CATCLO, SAYING: "This piece has now been sprayed for about a year and I've been wearing these jeans for about two years and so far there's been no detrimental effect to the process, either of the handle of it or the wear or the colour of it. But a lot of those things are a very natural process of taking it from something like this, which you could call almost installation art to a product that's fit for market." And Catclo could be fit for the market within a year, according to Ryan. The pair won't patent their invention, in its final development stages, hoping all laundry manufacturers will add it to their detergents. They say if they can persuade half the population to wear an item of catalysed clothes at any one time they can make a significant dent in air emissions, and give new meaning to the concept of clean clothes.

UK team hopes to clean up with anti-pollution super soap

Sunday, Nov 25, 2012 - 02:49

Top News »

Most Popular »

Money »

S&P 500 to new record on improving economy S&P 500 to new record on improving economy

Fri, Aug 29, 2014 - (2:31)

Finding meaning in the S&P 500 2000 mark Finding meaning in the S&P 500 2000 mark

Mon, Aug 25, 2014 - (2:35)

S&P falls back from record high S&P falls back from record high

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (1:35)

S&P 500 closes at new high S&P 500 closes at new high

Thu, Aug 21, 2014 - (1:24)

S&P 500 just shy of record S&P 500 just shy of record

Wed, Aug 20, 2014 - (2:23)

Apple hits $100 a share Apple hits $100 a share

Tue, Aug 19, 2014 - (2:06)

Nasdaq closes at 14-year high Nasdaq closes at 14-year high

Mon, Aug 18, 2014 - (2:23)

Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood Putin puts Wall Street in buying mood

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (2:10)

We've become a promotional culture-RetailMeNot's Bodge We've become a promotional...

Thu, Aug 14, 2014 - (4:39)

The Exchange »

The Exchange: Hot commodity The Exchange: Hot commodity

Wed, Jul 16, 2014 - (9:25)

The Exchange: Constitutional crusade The Exchange: Constitutional crusade

Wed, Jun 25, 2014 - (11:35)

The Exchange: The value of money The Exchange: The value of money

Mon, Jun 02, 2014 - (9:53)

The Exchange: China’s Second Continent The Exchange: China’s Second Continent

Tue, May 27, 2014 - (9:35)

The Exchange: A master of business arts The Exchange: A master of business arts

Thu, May 08, 2014 - (8:24)

The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities The Exchange: America's bankrupt cities

Mon, May 05, 2014 - (8:52)

The Exchange: Let the rocking commence The Exchange: Let the rocking commence

Tue, Apr 08, 2014 - (8:13)

The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies The Exchange: The Moneyball fallacies

Mon, Mar 24, 2014 - (9:54)

Is doing good a good business? Is doing good a good business?

Mon, Mar 17, 2014 - (7:38)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, Feb 19, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, Aug 29, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, Aug 05, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - (10:39)

Moving Pictures »

Images of August Images of August

Fri, Aug 29, 2014 - (1:00)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, Aug 22, 2014 - (3:12)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, Aug 11, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, Aug 08, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Thu, Jul 31, 2014 - (1:20)

World Cup: passion on the pitch World Cup: passion on the pitch

Fri, Jul 11, 2014 - (1:00)

A refugee in America gives back A refugee in America gives back

Wed, Jul 02, 2014 - (3:25)

A long search for refuge A long search for refuge

Fri, Jun 20, 2014 - (3:04)

World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals World Cup: Around the globe in 50 goals

Fri, Jun 06, 2014 - (1:08)

VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light VIVID – Sydney’s spectacle of light

Fri, May 30, 2014 - (1:37)