Every day, microfibers shed from our clothes into laundry waste water, which flows into our oceans. Aquatic life ingests the microfibers, and in turn, people eat the aquatic life. Microfibers release harmful substances that can affect reproduction, development, and cancer growth. Under Armour, a popular clothing brand, is developing ways to design environmentally friendly fabrics, mitigating microfiber shedding at its source. To do this, they need to understand the type, amount, and rate of fibers being released. As part of this process, our team has designed an automated gradient tool that aids in the identification and quantification of these microfibers. This process exploits differences in material density to achieve physical separation of fiber types using a technology called density gradient centrifugation. By implementing this tool into their existing testing process, Under Armour can better understand the shedding properties of their textiles and modify their materials, weaves, and manufacturing techniques to reduce shedding.
- Hannah Christina Aspinwall, senior in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
- Nikki Li, junior in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
- Sharada Narayanan, senior in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
- Simi Aluko, junior in Civil Engineering
- Matt Trexler and Jeremy Strangeland, Under Armour