That'd be the "Wellington Boot" then!
UK company Plasma Product Innovations (P2i) today demonstrated a chemical process it claims can render any material 100 per cent waterproof. Grappling at an ungodly hour this morning with words like 'hydrophobic', 'nanotechnology' and 'submicroscopic-surface-enhancement', a small number of half-asleep hacks were shown how a …
"Eventually, we hope, yes. We are very keen to apply it to electronics, ultimately making them waterproof, although this is still in the early stages of development."
In other words....
I hadn't thought of that, thanks very much. Now, where did I leave that number for the guy from Intel/HP/LG/Panasonic/TOM TOM/[Insert electronics manufacturer of choice]?
I thought the whole point of goretex was to be a oneway street for water, i.e. let water out but not in, to allow for breathable material and not so sweaty clothing, I am guessing this would not work in the same way.
Anyways great invention but not a goretex killer me thinks......
With clothing and footware particularly making something waterproof isn't that hard. The challenge that GoreTex has managed is to make it waterproof and breathable. The advantage of breathable fabrics is that sweat can evaporate from your foot/armpits etc and pass out through the material while rain can't penetrate in through the material. If the material is not breathable then you will still end up with soggy (and very smelly) sock after a long hike just from sweat.
Just curious - do you end up with a bubble of water hovering 1 inch off the surface or what?
I have another good use for this: car windshields. Stuff like Rain-X works well, but needs bi-weekly renewal, and nano coating seems less effective after half a year, but both are good enough to repeat the effort to maintain the result. I can also see this work for seats and windows in general.
And it would be a fantastic practical joke to give someone a treated towel ..
The point of Gore Tex is not it's waterproofing abilities, plenty of materials before it offered waterproof, but that Gore Tex it one way - it lets water out but not in.
Accidently step into water that is deeper than your boots and you'll have wet feet for the rest of the day. At least un-waterproofed boots let that water out and so does Gore Tex, but boots waterproofed by this method would trap that water inside!
Likewise sweat would be trapped inside the boot, or inside the rain coat etc. Compare wearing a breathable waterproof against those plastic/rubber backed ones where after a couple of hours you are sticky and chafing.
This tech has great potential, but waterproofing clothing? FAIL
Water repellent doesn't necessarily mean water proof. Treating a string vest with this won't magically mean that you stay dry out in the rain whilst wearing said vest. It would mean that the vest stays dry, or rather that the cotton it's made from doesn't soak up the water.
Most waterproof items (good ones anyway) eventual failure mode is to seep through the seams where there has to be a physical join.
And most of the time people wearing water proof items get wet because water runs in through the obvious openings, where your head and arms stick out for example.
(not saying that this is rubbish, just saying that it's not magic).
It doesn't let sweat out and if badly designed, lets water in the sewn joints (unless they are properly taped) and drips down the neck/throat area.
Can't see this being an improvement unless it really does repel water from a distance (even if a millimeter).
Notice the picture above only shows the toes of the boot not getting wet - dunk it upto it's shoelaces and show the insides !!!
Probably alien technology involved from a crashed UFO.
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Just because something repels 100% of liquid water doesn't mean for a minute that it won't be breathable. The treatment repels liquid water from the fabric and doesn't rubberise the fabric or really seal it in any way. The breathable nature of the original garment will be unaffected.
A goretex boot wouldn't allow water to drain out if it got filled from the top, goretex allows vapour sized water particles/molecules/whatever through but water itself is stopped.. or something along those lines. I'm no scientist. I know as i recently left my goretext boot outside the tent in the rain, it filled up good n proper, and didn't drain.
Paris, she loves to be filled up
@MartinLyne: "Would that stop rusting if adapted for use on metallics?"
No, that would be paint!
Regarding the comments about it not being a GoreTex killer (which I agree with), this reminds me of the Astronaut pencil story. Imagine that story re-written .....
"Faced with the problem of making objects completely waterproof, the UK spent millions developing sub-microscopic nanotechnology ion-masking coatings. Meanwhile, everyone else used a plastic bag."
Goretex membrane isn't one way, nor a sponge, it has tiny holes that are small enough to let water vapour though but not let droplets of liquid water through. At least until they get clogged up.
Whether fabric treated like this would behave the same way would depend on the fibre size and how tightly woven it was, or how porous a non-woven material was.
And what about Capillary action?
That's how water penetrates most materials. And if the treatment prevents that, how exactly does it 'breathe'?
I suspect this product only works on certain materials, because to 'breathe' it has to be able to allow water vapour to pass, but not water droplets - that's how Goretex works, it's actually a PTFE membrane full of holes. Holes too small to admit water droplets, but large enough to pass water vapour.
I'll believe this stuff when I see it applied to a piece of woven Cordura which, which then becomes totally waterproof...
Submicroscopic impregnation will presumably have to be applied using industrial methods and pressure technology, maybe safety precautions to prevent nanoparticle damage to human tissues (compare the risk from carbon nanotubes). Which means no home spraying, but much more effective impregnation of producer-treated goods.
A local small-scale industry will probably spring up (like one-hour photo development) to provide industrial-style impregnation.
There must be a helluva difference in nanosize between molecules of water and of water vapour, otherwise the GoreTex solution (heh) wouldn't work.
String vests might prove warmer even though they let in moisture cos the threads wouldn't become wet and lose heat due to evaporation. Same goes for socks, even though they won't absorb moisture but repel it. The capillary effect might be designed in to channel moisture up and out of submerged shoes, but that's for the garment engineers to discover, not us.
As for submersion being inevitable, that's crap. A simple elastic sleeve (impregnated) around the interface between shoe and sock (or trousers even better) would plug this gappy leak.
So the thing sounds great.
(Paris cos she has a gappy leak that can only be plugged by summat injecting fluid, and thinks a lot about impregation.)
umm... this is a property of liquids... the skinny holes that would suck up water will allow air to pass freely since air is a gas. if the holes are too small, then water won't get past without being forced (micron filters) but air still moves through it much easier. you forget the concept of densities. less dense substances move easier than more dense substances. water moves easier than lead and air moves easier than water.
As any real outdoorsman(woman/alien) will tell you none of the "waterproof" outdoor gear is truly waterproof - it all lets in water after it's saturated.
Gore-Tex "breathes" better in the ads that in does in the real world. If you're forced to wear it you end up just as wet, but it's from sweat, not rain. If it isn't cold outside you're better off just getting rained on. It won't hurt you ya know.
A/C said it, if it doesn't really repeal water from the surface it's useless. We're going to need anti-gravity somethings to keep us truly dry.
I've been mountaineering, hill-walking, ski-mountaineering and expedition cycling for years. I've tried every material available at some point or another, with varying degrees of success. Gore-tex is by far and away the best. Firstly, as one poster correctly pointed out, it works by having small enough holes in the PTFE membranes that water molecules pass through, but the surface tension of water makes the water droplets too large to get through. This in turn leads to one of it's weaknesses. If you add something to the fabric that reduces the surface tension of water (like detergent) it can stop it from working. As with any breathable fabric, if the osmotic balance between the inside and outside isn't high enough, or the required moisture transport is too high for the rate supported by the fabric, then you will get condensation inside. The times I find that breathability breaks down (in all waterproof/breathable fabrics) is two-fold, one is when you are doing too much exercise, in too hot a state. The second more important one is in very very humid conditions, where there is insufficient osmotic imbalance - for example walking in low cloud. In those conditions you are getting wet regardless.
Compared to other fabrics though, it is more durable, more waterproof, and more breathable. And I haven't found another fabric that works adequately as a bivi-bag - where the fabric has to transport all the moisture from your breathing as well (and I've spent months and months living in bivi-bags so I have plenty of experience here).
Gore-tex (or fully waterproof) boots are pretty silly in general though. On most hill-walking in the UK, at some point you will put your foot in a deep bog, or cross a stream that is too deep. With a gore-tex boot, the boot fills up with water and stays there (unlike what someone above mentioned). Jungle boots for the military are actually canvas with drain holes in the bottom, knowing that you are going to get wet. Personally, the best combination I have used is waxed leather boots, worn with gore-tex gaiters. If water gets in the boot, it soaks through the leather from the inside and you don't pour water out of your boot. If it rains, the water runs off the gaiters and boots quite adequately.
The way stuff like this works is that the water will just slide off as it will be unable to form droplets or to wet the fibres. Sweat evaporates so will pass through as vapour. At most you would have to add a wicking layer inside the treated.
Most running clothing these days is made from material where the weave means they act as wicks taking the sweat from you and also meaning they dry very quickly if rained on. You cannot wash them in fabric softeners without endangering this property.
If this treatment means I can have a rain jacket that is lighter than Goretex though that would be good and for the shoes too.
The trouble with goretex is that it will not always keep you dry.
(See a bunch of comments above)
But if you layer your clothing right, or rather the materials right, you can make a fairly water repellent rain gear that does breath. The inner layer is goretex and the outer layer is your water proof fabric, where you have vents to allow the coat to breathe.
So you stay dry for the most part.
yeah, so you gonna call one o'them to fetch yer phone after it falls in the terlet?
@peter - yeah, i can see that happening with my better half...i would be laughing all the way to my grave.
@steve - maybe i would rather see my other half in that string vest - and that would be magic.
@dervheid - thank you, well done!
@xjy - Impregnation and filling up with fluid - erm, hasn't that caused enought trouble already?
"The article states that the objects; "are treated with the ion-mask plasma", that's an ionised gas plasma."
This means that the treated object will receive an electrical charge, not a good way to treat electronic components. You may make the device waterproof - but chances are it won't work afterwards!
Gore-tex is no longer king for most applications where it once was. Both eVent and Paramo's analogy system are more breathable and equally as waterproof (more waterproof in the latter case).
But this has the potential to blow away Gore-tex and eVent. It can be as light as eVent and as hard wearing as Gore-tex. All you have to do is find a fabric woven in such a way as to have lots of breathability and then waterproof it with this technique.
However I can't see how to apply it in such a way as to do what only Paramo can do - allow liquid water to pass only in one direction.
I suspect that this would be of limited value, for the same reason that most synthetic fabric bike gear is unsatisfactory in the ultimate analysis.
In really bad weather, the pressure of wind (real or virtual) can force water through the miniscule holes that it would normally not allow it.
The only satisfactory wet weather bike gear I have ever found is waxed cotton.
Mines the black Belstaff please - the one standing, not hanging, in the corner.
I'm surprised no one has commented on this point yet, but from the sounds of it, this product's main claim is to do what cotton doesn't: not retain water. Having a material which blocks the passage of moisture and one which does not absorb moisture are two different functions. It may be that the plasma ion treatment process, when applied to say, shoe leather, makes it so difficult for water to take up residence that it is effectively permitted from navigating through the material as well. But, it could just mean that you can simply shake one of these treated materials dry but that water may still pass through freely.
Regarding electronics, they're already waterproof! No one ever complains that they have to wring out the moisture on their motherboard or that their power supply has gotten soggy again. The problem with dumping water on your electronics is the millions of new electrical circuits you've just created. With a name like "ion plasma" something tells me a surface treatment is not going to prevent flow of electrons.
Anonymous Coward • Wednesday 27th August 2008 12:21 GMT
Such a shame that it's Hi-Tec adopting this. Their footwear is so badly constructed that it falls apart within 6 months of daily wear."
I've owned 3 pairs of Hi-Tec hiking shoes over the course of about 10 years... They consistently outlast anything else I've ever worn. The only other shoes to come close were Solomon brand.
2 of those pairs I literally wore out hiking in the mountains of Colorado, wore through the rubber after 2-4 years. Never had a problem with them "falling apart" - big name tennies do that something fierce though. All the pairs I owned were fantastic shoes, they would dry out fast when I waded through a stream or river, were light and had great traction.
It seems that only a few posters have worked it out. The fabric itself becomes waterproof and will not absorb moisture, but that doesn't mean that water can't go through the fabric.
Think of it like a plastic bag. you can wrap it around your hand and put it in water to keep your hand dry. Take it out and the plastic bag itself can simply be shaken dry. Now put hole in the plastic bag (like the hundreds of holes in woven fabric) and repeat. Your hand will now get wet, but the plastic bag can still be shaken dry.
So, for example, motorcycle gear treated with this won't help to keep you any drier as such, but it will prevent the gear itself from getting wet and heavy and taking ages to dry out. Leather jackets treated with this would be brilliant as they weigh heaps once they start to get water logged.
> Such a shame that it's Hi-Tec adopting this. Their footwear is so
> badly constructed that it falls apart within 6 months of daily wear.
Eh? I just retired my "walking the dogs" Hi-Tecs after about five years of near daily 5+ mile walks (we live in an area where we can only sprint the Whippets a couple times a week & they need exercise to keep in show-shape). My wife went thru' 4 pair of Nikes in the same time frame.
I also have a pair of the Magnum steel toed hobnails that are probably 12 years old (I added the hobnails). Granted, I only wore them daily for a couple years when I was skinning a cat for my Uncle's logging company ... Hey, I had to do SOMETHING after I got his computers stable!
And as a side note, they are wide enough to fit my short, stubby feet.
Not affiliated with Hi-Tec, etc.
No icon, this isn't AOL.
It is touching how the Gortex advertising has made such an impression on everyone. Gortex says it is breathable but after 20 odd years of climbing and mountaineering I can assure everyone that there is no disernable difference between Goretex (or any other membrane treated fabric) and PU Nylon.
The real difference nowadays is most good jackets are lined and that stops the clammy feel that rainproof kit used to have though at the expense of weight.
Try spending a night in a Goretex bivvy bag and see how wet the sleeping bag is in the morning even without rain.
Paris because of sleeping bags
Can be applied to gadgets?
Anonymous Coward • Wednesday 27th August 2008 14:12 GMT
The statement of making gadgets waterproof as well mean it will stop watering pouring into my laptops air vents :D
No it will still pour in through the vents,but,it might not go phut when it does