New laundry liquid could ‘significantly’ improve air quality, say academics

ECO-friendly consumers could soon be purifying the air as they walk, due to a laundry additive that has been created in a collaboration between Sheffield University and the London College of Fashion.

Plans are in place to commercialise the “CatClo” liquid, which contains pollution-eating particles and could be washed into clothes.

A Sheffield University spokesman explained that clothes would only need to be washed in Catclo once, as the nanoparticles of titanium dioxide grip onto fabrics “very tightly”.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“When the particles then come into contact with nitrogen oxides in the air, they react with these pollutants and oxidise them in the fabric”, they said.

“The nitrogen oxides treated in this way are completely odourless and colourless and pose no pollution hazard, as they are removed harmlessly when the item of clothing is next washed, if they haven’t already been dissipated harmlessly in sweat.

“The additive itself is also completely harmless and the nanoparticles are unnoticeable from the wearer’s point of view.”

It is thought one person wearing clothes treated with CatClo would be able to remove around 5g of nitrogen oxides from the air in the course of an average day – roughly equivalent to the amount produced each day by the average family car.

Professor Tony Ryan from Sheffield University said: “It’s the action of daylight on the nanoparticles that makes them function in this way.

“The development of the additive is just one of the advances we’re making in the field of photocatalytic materials – materials that, in the presence of light, catalyse chemical reactions.

“Through CatClo, we aim to turn clothes into a catalytic surface to purify air.

“If thousands of people in a typical town used the additive, the result would be a significant improvement in local air quality.

“This additive creates the potential for community action to deliver a real environmental benefit that could actually help to cut disease and save lives.”