Future Fashion: clothing that can purify air moves a step closer

Catalytic clothing, a fusion of science and fashion involving the University of Sheffield and London College of Fashion has moved one step closer to making their world changing ideas a reality as part of a campaign for clean air.

Ecover, the world's best known ecological cleaning brand, who are committed to producing sustainable and exceptional cleaning products, are currently carrying out rigorous testing in collaboration with scientists from the University of Sheffield and Cristal Global who manufacture the essential ingredient, ultrafine titanium dioxide CristalACTIVTM, to produce a laundry product that will transform our clothes into air purifying catalysts.

Ecover said: "All citizens become part of the solution instead of being a part of the problem. The idea is simple and effective: by treating our clothes, each one of us can become a catalyst for clean air. Air pollution is neutralised around our clothes as we walk through the city. With the help of sunlight, the catalysts will neutralise the dirt from the air pollution around us that would otherwise end up stuck to our clothes. Cleaner air for our cities and clean clothes, what could be better?"

These bold ambitions could see this revolutionary product appearing on our supermarket shelves as early as 2013.

2012 marks a significant milestone in the development of Catalytic Clothing, a project conceived by artist/designer Helen Storey MBE from London College of Fashion with scientist Professor Tony Ryan OBE from the University of Sheffield.

Employing existing technology in a new way, this public experiment between fashion and science explores how clothing and textiles can be used as a catalytic surface to purify the air we breathe.

Since launching in June 2011 the campaign for clean air has spread across the globe and has reached over 300 million people. The Catalytic Clothing film starring Erin O'Connor which went viral, continues to be downloaded all over the world.

News organisations from Russia to Singapore have been quick to grasp the enormous potential for Catalytic Clothing to reduce global air pollution, a problem which is reaching dangerously high levels in towns and cities across the world. Air quality is a serious health issue and a contributory factor in the premature deaths of approximately 50,000 premature deaths nationally.

In talking about the project Professor Tony Ryan OBE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Science at the University of Sheffield commented: "Catalytic Clothing is a beautiful manifestation of a deeply technical process. We will engage the public in formulating its nature and application allowing us to develop something that is both user-friendly and technically excellent."

Professor Helen Storey MBE added: "Catalytic Clothing is the most challenging, globally relevant project I have ever attempted. Behind almost all human advancement lies a science. Through my work, I try to share and involve the public with these possibilities."

A host of Catalytic Clothing events will be kicking off across the UK and globally in 2012. These events started yesterday (Wednesday 4 April 2012) with the Edinburgh International Science Festival. Here, a small field of bespoke denim kilts, produced in Edinburgh by 21st Century Kilts, were catalysed and 'planted' with denim jeans in Saint Andrew Square to demonstrate this compelling idea which has global significance for the air we breathe and the reduction of harmful pollutants.

Notes for Editors: The University of Sheffield
With nearly 25,000 students from 125 countries, the University of Sheffield is one of the UK's leading and largest universities. A member of the Russell Group, it has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen's Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007). These prestigious awards recognise outstanding contributions by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom's intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield also boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and many of its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence around the world.

The University's research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.

Ecover, who are the main sponsors of the Catalytic Clothing cultural campaign, are one of the world's leading suppliers of green and sustainable cleaning products. All of their products are made with fully renewable plant-based ingredients and produced using a totally biochemical process. Ecover has been recognised by the United Nations Environment programme (UNEP) for their outstanding practical achievements for the protection and improvement of our environment.

Cristal Global
Cristal Global is proud to be at the forefront of ground-breaking earth-friendly technology. The Cristal Company has spent the past 10 years developing CristalACTIVTM which actively cleans the air we breathe. It works by neutralising the pollution in the atmosphere around it and was originally designed to be used in paints and concrete. After extensive research, development and testing, CristalACTIVTM has now gone on sale in Europe and Asia. This new photocatalytic titanium dioxide has been developed by Cristal in a bid to help create a cleaner world.

CristalACTIVTM is a powerful ingredient for use in coatings which, when applied to a surface or medium, breaks down harmful pollutants such as smog-producing nitrogen oxides when in the presence of UV light, converting them into less harmful substances. It also exhibits self-cleaning properties on the surface it is applied to, meaning the dirt is no longer absorbed and is more easily washed away e.g. on self-cleaning glass.

This is the first time this innovative product has been fused with clothing and the results are incredible – instead of the pollution having to find a treated surface, the surface of the clothing comes to the source of the pollution.

This is by no means the first time that Cristal Global has entered into the world of earth friendly products. Ultrafine titanium dioxide based products are already at the core of catalyst technologies.

For further information please contact: Shemina Davis, Acting Media Relations Manager, on 0114 2225339 or email shemina.davis@sheffield.ac.uk