BASF has succeeded in creating a dirt repellent finish that gives fabric the same nanoscale ‘lotus leaf’ self-cleaning properties as can be achieved with solids and paints.
The treatment mimics the papillae on the lotus leaf surface which lets water form nearly spherical droplets and roll off without making contact with the surface. Particles of dirt are carried along by the droplets and washed away without any need for detergents or scrubbing.
BASF’s main objective in applying the principle to fabrics was to optimise the processing and durability of the finishing.
‘The solution is a composite material consisting of nanoparticles firmly embedded in a carrier matrix’, said Dr. Ralf Nörenberg, Head of BASF’s Competence Centre for Technical Textiles.
The resulting composite has the required nanostructured surface, but does not release any nanoparticles.
Fabrics for sunshades and sails treated with Mincor TX TT are now in the trial phase.
‘This type of finishing is an ideal solution for these kind of fabrics that are continuously exposed to the outdoor elements and can’t be put in a washing machine’, said Nörenberg. ‘The next shower of rain simply washes off the dirt, and in prolonged periods of dry weather all that’s needed is a brief shower from the garden hose.’