A team from a Hong Kong university have created a cashmere fibre which can be cleaned using just sunlight, that could drastically reduce the amount of chemicals and water used to clean clothes. Elly Park reports.
STORY: Getting cashmere cleaned is about to get a whole lot easier, thanks to researchers at Hong Kong's City University. Dr. Walid Daoud and his team have developed a self-cleaning cashmere that simply uses the power of sunlight. He explains, a special coating of a mineral called anatase titanium dioxide paired with a 24 hour exposure to light triggers a chemical process that creates tiny currents of electricity. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CITY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT, DR WALID DAOUD, SAYING: "We allow these charges to get involved in side-reactions that lead to the formation of oxidants that do oxidise the contamination that can take place on the surface of the material." The process breaks down dirt and a variety of stains, including coffee and even red wine. This method was actually developed 2002, but application on cashmere was difficult as the delicate fiber was prone to damage from the oxidation process. But now that the technique has been perfected, Daoud thinks its commercial use will be easy on the wallet for consumers as well as the environment. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CITY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT, DR WALID DAOUD, SAYING: "On the one hand clothes that can clean itself, that is regarded as smart material, and on the other hand you have with the self-cleaning clothes, then we also have less consumption of energy, of water, of chemicals." A darling of fashionistas, the notoriously expensive cashmere wool is produced from the undercoat of Cashmere goats that only live in mountainous regions of Mongolia, Tibet and China. But Daoud says his treatment will only increase the final price tag by 1 to 1.5 per cent, which would make it a bargain over time.