The nanocoating, which includes non-harmful chemicals such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide, can provide the wearer with fire protection, UV light protection, and chemical recognition and detection capabilities.
“The chemical detection part is something that is commonly not found in fabrics.” said Dr. Grunlan, professor, Texas A&M’s Dept. of Mechanical Engineering. “So if you were starting to be contacted by a chemical agent or something that was dangerous, you could immediately get out of that situation perhaps. So that’s the first line of defense, knowing that you’re in the midst of a certain smoke or something that maybe you can’t even see with your eyes.”
Dr. Grunlan adds that the chemical makeup of the nanocoatings will not cause any health issues for the soldiers wearing the clothing or create any environmental damage.
“What people are currently using for flame retardancy, what people are using for other properties often times have toxicity issues and so on top of having very good properties that we’re going to add to the fabric, we want it to be environmentally benign and toxicity benign, we’re expecting our treatments to be nontoxic.” he added.
In addition to military uniforms, Dr. Grunlan hopes his research can have future applications in children’s sleepwear and oil field uniforms.