Does my bum look big in my catalytic converter? – Climate Change – Environment – The Independent
Some people wear their heart on their sleeve. Now a few may take to wearing their eco-credentials too, in the form of jeans that work the same way as catalytic converters in cars.
The catalytic jeans are the brainchild of the chemist Professor Tony Ryan and the fashion designer Professor Helen Storey, who discovered that when denim is covered with tiny particles of a mineral called titanium dioxide, it reacts with air and light to break down harmful emissions in the air.
Nitrogen oxide (NO2) pollutants – produced mainly by traffic and factories – are then neutralised and simply washed away when the garment is laundered.
So in theory, jeans wearers of the future could help to clean the dirty air around them simply by walking about in their favourite pair of Wranglers or Levis.
With toxic emissions killing an estimated 1.3 million people a year worldwide, the resulting improvement in air quality could significantly reduce deaths and respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
Professor Storey, of the London College of Fashion, was the enfant terrible of fashion 20 years ago, renowned for dressing stars such as Madonna and Cher. Her designs bore shock images, including one of a foetus, and in 1995 she caused a furore by sending bare-bottomed models down the catwalk.
But in 2004 her life changed when, through her biologist sister, she “re-discovered science” and had a meeting of minds with Professor Ryan, from Sheffield University. The pair started working on a green science and fashion collaboration called Wonderland, which developed into Catalytic Clothing. Their eureka moment came when they realised that microscopic particles of titanium oxide, which is contained in glass, paving stones and sun cream, worked as a pollution-buster when sprayed on clothes.