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Fibres/​Yarns/​Fabrics

Graphene nanotubes outperform PPE alternatives

Ultra-low dosage enables standard material processing and final product colour flexibility.

24th March 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Luxembourg

Protective

Luxembourg-headquartered OCSiAl reports that graphene nanotubes applied as an advanced conductive material are being rapidly adopted by the growing personal protective equipment (PPE) market.

As the world’s largest graphene nanotube manufacturer, the company has developed a multitude of solutions for protective wear applications – from safety suits shielding the body from extreme temperatures and flames, to anti-static shoes and clean room gloves.

Workers in industries including automotive, electronics, oil and gas, chemical, medical and even flour-milling facilities all require the use of (PPE) with anti-static properties. Beyond protection of workers from ignition risk, the use of anti-static clothing prevents the failure of static-sensitive devices that can lead to large financial losses.

Further growth of the PPE market is being driven by new safety regulations aimed at keeping pace with the increasing automation of industrial plants.

As a result of their high strength, electrical conductivity,and flexibility, the working dosage of OCSiAl’s Tuball graphene nanotubes is between 10-40 times lower than that of other solutions. A content of just 0.05-0.06% graphene nanotubes makes it possible to produce anti-static latex gloves with electrical resistance of 10^7 Ω. In contrast to ammonium salts, which are easily evaporated, nanotubes provide permanent and humidity-independent resistance in full compliance with the new European EN 16350:2014 standard and ATEX (equipment for potentially explosive atmospheres) regulations. The anti-static properties of these gloves also allow for smooth operation of touchscreens without having to be removed to ensure worker and product protection.

In addition to all types of latexes, graphene nanotubes are being applied in silicone, fluoroelastomer and PVC plastisol-based textile coatings used for electrostatic discharge protection against aggressive fuels, chemicals, hot temperatures and sparks to ensure they match the global standards for protective wear.

Anti-static metal yarns are being replaced with graphene nanotubes in fireproof clothing. © OCSiAl

One example is in fireproof and anti-static clothing designed for protection against sparks, splashes of molten metal, high temperatures, and risk of sudden electrostatic discharge. In this application, anti-static metal yarn has been replaced with graphene nanotubes, giving anti-static properties to the fabrics at the fluoro-organic treatment stage. Nanotube technology has proven effective after 15 washes, demonstrating uniform anti-static protection throughout the product, with electrical resistance of 10^7 Ω.

To ensure proper grounding, polyurethane elastomer with graphene nanotubes is used in the outsoles and midsoles of footwear, enabling anti-static shoes to be used in various static-sensitive facilities in the chemistry, oil and gas, electronics and mining industries.

The use of graphene nanotubes provides a unique combination of permanent anti-static properties with original production processing and colour saturation of the product – a combination that is difficult to achieve with other conductive solutions. A tiny dosage of nanotubes facilitates the creation of safer, longer lasting, colourful clothing and contributes to the global sustainable consumption approach thanks to the use of less raw materials to obtain better performing products.

www.tuball.com

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