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A team of researchers from the Hohenstein Institute in Germany is partnering with a number of innovative textile companies to see how graphene can best be exploited for personal protective equipment (PPE).

Graphene has been the subject of many news stories in recent years, as the dazzling array of benefits that the new wonder material offers is heavily researched.

However, while research and development in many industries has moved on with the super-thin conductive material, the same cannot be said of the PPE industry.

Until now that is, in any case.

Recognising that the pace of progress in the PPE industry when it comes to graphene has been slow, the GRAFAT project has been launched.

Backed by EU funding, the project hopes to exploit the many benefits of the material to develop new lightweight, flexible, damage resistant, impermeable and strong heat protective clothing.

The team is being led by Project Manager Dr. Roshan Paul, who said:

“If their functionality can be successfully proven, textiles with graphene-modified surfaces could find many uses in the PPE sector, especially in heat protective clothing.”

As well as offering excellent flame and heat-retardant properties, it is likely that graphene PPE will also stop the penetration into textiles of harmful gases and not be susceptible to thermal decomposition.

This offers the potential for far lighter clothing, increasing the mobility and effectiveness of workers at the same time as making the workplace safer.

The project is set to last three years, with demonstration models expected to be delivered through the course of the research.

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