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Dr Dahua Shou awarded Green Tech Fund for sustainable building clothing project

29 Sep 2023

Research & Innovation

Dr Shou aims to create multi-functional, value-added "building clothing" (BC) from textile waste to contribute to reducing the global carbon footprint.

Congratulations to Dr Shou Dahua, Limin Endowed Young Scholar in Advanced Textiles Technologies and Assistant Professor whose project, titled “Development of Multi-Functional “Building Clothing” using Textile Waste for Energy Saving and Waste Reduction”, has been awarded the Green Tech Fund (GTF).

The global fashion and textile industry, valued at an estimated US$2.5 trillion, is responsible for 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted annually, which is equivalent to almost 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions. The environmental crisis is further worsened by the fact that over 85% of discarded textiles are simply sent to landfills or incinerated. In Hong Kong alone, an average of 392 tonnes of textile waste is sent to the landfills daily, with just 0.4% of textiles being recovered for recycling.

Dr Shou aims to create multi-functional, value-added "building clothing" (BC) from textile waste to contribute to reducing the global carbon footprint. Textile waste, which often consists of blended yarns, is difficult to recycle due to the challenges and high cost of sorting, depolymerisation, and dissolution. As such, textile waste which is most difficult to reuse but intrinsically durable and thermally-resistant, will be collected and used in Dr Shou’s project to develop a sustainable building envelope for thermal insulation and radiative cooling through a mass production method.

Leveraging photon engineering, a nature-inspired design, and heat transfer optimisation, the proposed BC will excel in managing building temperatures. In addition to minimisation of thermal conductivity, the textile-reinforced hierarchical microstructure and colourants will selectively reflect solar heat, including visible light (VIS) and near-infrared (NIR) light, and emit thermal radiation in the long-wave infrared (LWIR) spectrum. Furthermore, BC effectively repels water and dirt on surfaces, thus ensuring a consistent and robust performance.

The reuse of textile waste as thermal insulation for sustainable buildings is an effective green technology that synergistically combines the two crucial components of achieving carbon neutrality in Hong Kong: recycling textile waste and saving on building energy consumption. In Hong Kong, buildings are responsible for 90% of energy consumption and over 60% of carbon emissions. The use of a thermoregulative BC can reduce energy consumption of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, which account for 36% of the energy utilised in most households.

This multi-functional BC, enhanced with multi-colour aesthetics, is both highly durable and lightweight, as well as flame-resistant, so that the material is compatible with a variety of settings or products, such as residential and industrial buildings, village and stilt houses, substations and container apartments, or curtains, canopies and tents, respectively.

Green Tech Fund (GTF)

The GTF was established in 2020 to provide funding support to research and development projects that can help Hong Kong decarbonise and enhance environmental protection. The assessment committee is chaired by the Director of Environmental Protection and comprises members from the academia, industry and green groups.

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