Intelligent Energy

Save energy: Wear shirts that clean themselves

Save energy: Wear shirts that clean themselves

Posting in Energy

All it takes is some extra strength nitrogen-doped titanium-dioxide, and a dash of silver-iodide. Bye bye washing machine!

We all know that the washing machine is a domestic energy and water hog. Yes, it's getting more efficient, but it still makes most of us greenhouse gas and environmental sinners.

Alas, we will atone! According to Science, one day we might wear shirts that clean themselves. All it will take is some extra-strength nitrogen-doped titanium-dioxide, a dash of silver iodide, and light of some description.

Apparently, scientists have long known that a coating of titanium-dioxide on cotton will break down dirt through oxidation triggered by sunshine. Trouble is, the process relies on the ultraviolet portion of sun rays, which is limited.

How do you get around this problem? By doping the compound with nitrogen, and adding a layer of silver iodide, of course. Then, the dirt crumbles away far more efficiently, and doesn't require ultraviolet. That's according to a report co-authored by researchers at Hubei University for Nationalities and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, both in China.

Don't haul your top-loader to the dump yet, however. Science notes that the materials engineers achieved success by using a 1,000 watt lamp for 2 hours. A thousand watts? Show me a 1,000 watt bulb in the living room, and I'll show you a fire. And a fair amount of greenhouse gas, as well.

But I don't doubt that this process will improve. Now, is anyone working on something similar for the dishes?

Photo: vagabondblogger via Flickr

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Mark Halper

Contributing Editor

Mark Halper has written for TIME, Fortune, Financial Times, the UK's Independent on Sunday, Forbes, New York Times, Wired, Variety and The Guardian. He is based in Bristol, U.K. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure