Killer Kevlar: Clothing That Shields From Germs

A team of researchers led by Yuyu Sun and Jie Luo from the University of South Dakota report progress toward the first Kevlar fabrics that can kill a wide range of infectious agents, including bacteria, viruses, and the spores that cause anthrax. Kevlar fabrics are widely used as fire-resistant materials for firefighters, police and emergency medical workers and could now potentially add a new level of protection against bio-threats.




Dr. Yuyu Sun, assistant professor in human ecology (Credit: University of Texas) 
Dr. Yuyu Sun, assistant
professor in human ecology
(Credit: University of Texas)

Amid increased threats of bioterrorism, there’s a growing need for new protective clothing that can also provide multiple protection against a wide variety of dangerous microorganisms. The scientists developed a special process to coat samples of Kevlar with acyclic N-Halamine, a potent germ-fighting substance. The coated and uncoated fabric samples where then exposed to microorganisms such as E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida tropicalis (a fungus), the MS2 virus and Bacillus subtilis spores (to mimic anthrax). Not surprisingly, after a short time, large amounts of microorganisms stuck to untreated fabric samples but the coated fabrics showed little to no adherence of the infectious agents. The coating, which is long-lasting, can be reactivated and does not sacrifice loss of fabric comfort or strength.  

Sample of bacteria-free N-halamine-treated textile (Credit: University of Texas) 
Sample of bacteria-free N-halamine-treated
textile (Credit: University of Texas)

“This project is part of an ongoing development that we’ve been working on for quite some time,” admitted Sun, who has been at the University of South Dakota since 2007. “We can combine these functions and create this clothing for other industries.”

TFOT recently covered a unique aircraft named Evolution, made of Kevlar and coal plastic as well as Swedish sports car manufacturer Koenigsegg’s new bio-fuel powered sports car named CCXR, made of carbon-fiber/Kevlar.

More on the new killer coating can be found on the University of South Dakota website