As the 2018 Winter Olympics are set to begin next week, creators of a moisture-managing ski jacket are literally going for the gold.
An “electrical textile,” built at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology research institute, uses the precious metal to keep winter athletes warm and dry – a challenge for skiers working up a sweat in the freezing cold.
The HYDRO_BOT fabric features a 20-micrometer-wide polymer membrane, coated on both sides with gold.
When a 1.5-volt shock is applied to the membrane, salt ions – and the sweat surrounding them – migrate through the membrane’s tiny pores, attracted electrically to the outside of the jacket.
Created in collaboration with the Thalwil, Switzerland-based company Osmotex and other industrial partners, the HYDRO_BOT technology mimics the osmosis behavior of a plant that uses its roots to draw water from soil.
The membrane, a set of micropumps supported by a conventional battery, can be switched on depending on weather and body activity.
“Even without current, liquid passes through the membrane. However, as soon as an electrical voltage is applied, the pumping effect increases significantly,” said HYDRO_BOT co-creator Dirk Hegemann in a press release from the Institute’s Advanced Fibers lab.
According to the researcher, the membrane pumps out about 10 liters of liquid per square meter and hour. The electro-osmotic membrane will be integrated into a ski jacket within various functional layers.
Don’t expect to see the jackets, however, at this year's PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games. Osmotex will prepare the HYDRO_BOT-equipped apparel for a commercial launch in late 2018/early 2019.
Watch the video below. What do you think? Would you use this while you ski?