Most people wouldn’t consider a denim kilt or a Vivienne Westwood ball gown essential tools for mitigating climate change, but then again, most people aren’t Helen Storey and Tony Ryan. The London College of Fashion professor and University of Sheffield chemist are the founders of Catalytic Clothing, a series of textiles capable of sponging greenhouse gases from the surrounding air. After showcasing the world’s first air-purifying dress and a pollutant-scrubbing “Field of Jeans” in 2011, Storey and Ryan will be attending the Edinburgh International Science Festival wearing the aforementioned kilt and gown, which they will spray with a catalyst that neutralizes nitrous oxide, nitric oxide, and other asthma-triggering—not to mention global-warming—volatile organic chemicals.
“Field of Jeans” by Helen Storey and Tony Ryan
The duo will also speak at an April 4 session as part of the 17-day festival, which begins March 30. “Tony is going to be wearing a catalyzed denim kilt, complete with sporran [the traditional pouch] and special socks,” Storey told the BBC radio programThe Life Scientific on Tuesday. “And I hopefully am going to be wearing an air-purifying Vivienne Westwood top and ball frock.”
The secret ingredient is nanoscale titanium dioxide, typically found in sunscreens and self-cleaning shirts.
The active ingredient is a coating of nanoscale titanium dioxide, typically found in sunscreens and self-cleaning shirts. In the presence of light and oxygen, the chemical catalyzes nitric oxide into a nitrate, which sloughs off the garment’s surface during laundering.
Storey and Ryan have been in talks with Ecover to add the catalyst to its line of eco-friendly detergents. “We hope to set up a proper laundry, so people can bring their clothes in and have them done and go out and be catalyzed,” Ryan said.