World-famous clothing brand H&M has backed the development of carbon capture aprons by researchers at the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA).
The first to try out the new aprons is the crew of a Stockholm restaurant, as the fashion industry tries to curb its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
The novel technique developed with the help of H&M backed research allows the cotton aprons to absorb CO2 directly from the air.
As HKRITA CEO Edwin Keh shared in an interview, the approach used by his team was largely inspired by different techniques applied in coal-fired power plants and chimneys to reduce their greenhouse gas CO2 emissions and involved creating an amine-containing solution to treat cotton fabrics with.
The result is cotton textiles that can not only pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but also stabilize and store it on their surfaces.
This process, to a certain extent, replicates exactly what happens in power plants equipped with carbon capture, where the CO2 is scrubbed from the air before the exhaust can be released.
And while admittedly, the carbon capture capacity of the aprons and other treated textiles is not very high, the relatively low costs make this a viable solution with many potential applications.
According to the researchers behind the novel approach, one T-shirt has the ability to capture and store about a third of the CO2 that would be captured by a tree in a day.
After use, the aprons in the pilot program are heated to 30-40 degrees Celsius, which is the temperature necessary for them to release the captured carbon dioxide.
The gas is then released into a greenhouse, where it can be absorbed by plants.
The technology is set to be developed further in the hopes that it will help contribute to the battle against climate change.