Extreme collaboration delivering solutions for a failing world.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

A consortium of academic staff within the three Faculties of Science., Arts & Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Sheffield (led by Prof Ryan, Pro-Vice Chancellor) will collaborate with colleagues from London College of Fashion (University of the Arts London) and the Tactility Factory (University of Ulster) to develop both new technologies and strategies for their implementation. The scientists and engineers will contribute to the development of the photocatalytic and photovoltaic materials. Cross-disciplinary collaboration with both artists and social scientists will frame the laboratory-based activities, building on previous collaborations and identified social challenges, providing us with a holistic approach to the challenges we seek to address. We also seek to engage all major stakeholders throughout the process of development, including government agencies, local councils, and end users such as the general public and industry representatives. A key aspect of this research will be the inclusion of a series of Public Engagement activities to raise awareness of this emerging technology (for example www.wonderland-sheffield.co.uk). We believe such engagement is vital to ensuring feasible solutions to real world problems. The past experience of the group teaches us that the key to successful, collaborative working is ongoing dialogue. The outputs of the individual research strands will be disseminated to the wider academic community and members of the general public through various means. These methods of dissemination will include conference papers, debates, lectures, web pages and workshops. Alongside these traditional methods of dissemination, we will also seek to utilise more contemporary methods of communication such as social networking sites, blogs and mobile phone applications. Furthermore, a cross-cutting seminar series will form a mechanism of dissemination for the outputs of the wider project to both the academic community and the general public.The introduction of these new technologies would have a direct, beneficial effect on the quality of lives. A reduction in the levels of air borne pollutants could result in an increased life expectancy for those living in densely populated urban areas. The widespread introduction of photovoltaic materials could provide a secure and reliable source of portable energy in the years to come. The introduction of both these technologies would also increase the likelihood of the UK achieving emissions targets for several air borne pollutants (some of which the UK is currently expected to miss) and greenhouse gases.

Planned Impact

This project will generate a portfolio of feasible solutions to real world problems, namely the high levels of air borne pollutants in densely populated urban environments and the need for a widespread introduction of alternative energy sources. The achievement of these objectives will be reliant on the engagement of several major stakeholder groups. These groups include: the general public, local and national government, and commercial organisations. Furthermore, each of the aforementioned groups will also benefit directly from the success of the proposed research. In the case of the general public, the introduction of the proposed technologies would have a direct, beneficial effect on their quality of lives. A reduction in the levels of air borne pollutants (strands 1 and 2) would result in an increased life expectancy for those living in densely populated urban areas. The widespread introduction of photovoltaic materials (strand 3) would provide a secure and reliable source of energy in the years to come. The introduction of both these technologies would also increase the likelihood of local and national government within the UK achieving emissions targets for several air borne pollutants (some of which the UK is currently expected to miss) and greenhouse gases. This has been acknowledged by members of the Environmental Strategy Teams within Sheffield City, Westminster and London City Councils. Furthermore, our colleagues in Sheffield City Council will work alongside the group within research strands 1 and 2. The problem of high levels of air borne pollutants and greenhouse gases is not restricted to the UK. The challenge of meeting emissions targets is one faced by the governments of every nation across the globe. Therefore, given the scale of the challenge we seek to address, the commercial potential of the proposed technologies is vast. Furthermore, this potential has already been acknowledged by several industry representatives, most notably those from Ecover, Unilever, Marks & Spencer and Arup. These technologies would therefore further strengthen the economic competitiveness of the United Kingdom. The group members, both individually and in the form of various partnerships, have a wealth of experience in the engagement of major stakeholder groups. These experiences vary from a diverse portfolio of Public Engagement activities through to the development of novel technologies that have subsequently reached the market place. The most recent example of the former being the Wonderland project (www.wonderland-sheffield.co.uk). This EPSRC-funded project (EP/D50712X/1) introduced the concept of sustainable technology to an audience of over 11 million members of the general public. The mechanisms of engagement within this project included a touring exhibition, an education programme and filmic pieces. This work was also widely reported through several media channels, both nationally and internationally. Furthermore, the work was short-listed within the Best International Fashion Project category of the Brit Insurance Design Awards 2009. Beyond the Public Engagement activities of this project, several novel technologies have been developed. These technologies are currently undergoing the process of commercialisation under the guidance of our colleagues at Sheffield University Enterprise Limited and Fusion IP. It is the intention of the group that the technologies proposed within this project would follow a similar trajectory.

Publications

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Description In order for collaborations to work properly there must be trust and collegiality amongst the partners.

The public have considerable appetite fro innovative solutions to environmental issue that business are not in a position to deliver.

Technology was developed to enable everyone to be an environmental clean-up agent through a fabric treatment applied to their clothes.
Exploitation Route We are working with the home and personal care industry to take catalytic clothing to the market.

We estimate that 4 million pairs of trousers (equivalent to half the population of London) have a combined surface area of roughly 80 million m2, and reckons that if all that cloth was coated with TiO2 it could remove 40 tonnes of NO2 from the air each day. In London roughly 350 tonnes of nitrogen dioxides (NOx) are produced each day, so it may not have an important enough effect. But in cities such as Sheffield pollution is lower, and getting a significant proportion of the population to sport TiO2 in their clothes would, Tony thinks, be enough to reduce NOx pollution to internationally accepted levels.

The best way of getting TiO2 into clothes would be to develop a laundry powder that would wash it into the fabric. But what would the public think of such an idea?

Helen and Tony set out to investigate, again using art to start the public discussion. The first installation, Field of Jeans (see photos) was shown in 2011 at Euston Square and Chelsea College of Art, London. "They are potentially the world's first air purifying jeans," ran the explanatory billboard.

Despite the pair's enthusiasm, questions remain over how feasible the idea would be. For example, the effect of putting a new and large-volume source of TiO2 into waste water isn't clear. There could could be ramifications on water treatment plants, for example, and research would be needed to investigate these, says Tony.

But as Helen points out, "there's no point spending millions on researching something that people are never going to use". That's why the discussions that catalytic clothing has started are important, she says. It's about asking what people think.

The catalytic poetry project arose from this and through its publicity we have connected advertising companies, organisations that make posters and a a photocatlyst company to make pollution busting posters and banners.

http://www.catalyticpoetry.org/
Sectors Chemicals,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Construction,Retail

URL http://www.catalytic-clothing.org/
 
Description The Catalytic Clothing team have produced 3 key installations to illustrate the project: Herself is a highly experimental, "couture" textile sculpture. The first of Catalytic Clothing's cultural interventions, Herself formed the start of this long term, pioneering project and was created in 2010, in collaboration with Trish Belford at the University of Ulster. Field of Jeans introduces the idea that everyday clothing and textiles can purify the air we breathe and was first shown in 2011. The project team identified that the air purifying technology used in Catalytic Clothing is particularly effective on indigo denim. Since most people own a pair of jeans these were chosen to represent universality. Made up of rows of donated denim jeans, Field of Jeans can be adapted for large or small spaces. Field of Jeans was 1st shown at Thomas Tallis School using the Catalytic Clothing concept as an art, science and technology learning tool for students and the local community. Catalytic clothing was exhibited in MANCHESTER SHEFFIELD DUBLIN EDINBURGH COPENHAGEN DUBAI NEWCASTLE 9 DURHAM The Red Planet Dresses were originally designed by Helen Storey in 1995 when she ran a commercial fashion business. Donated by Helen Storey from her personal archive the dresses are sprayed with the air purifying technology. They were the inspiration for a poem by SImon Armitage IN PRAISE OF AIR _____________________________________ I write in praise of air. I was six or five when a conjurer opened my knotted fist and I held in my palm the whole of the sky. I've carried it with me ever since. Let air be a major god, its being and touch, its breast-milk always tilted to the lips. Both dragonfly and Boeing dangle in its see-through nothingness Among the jumbled bric-a-brac I keep a padlocked treasure-chest of empty space, and on days when thoughts are fuddled with smog or civilization crosses the street with a white handkerchief over its mouth and cars blow kisses to our lips from theirs I turn the key, throw back the lid, breathe deep. My first word, everyone's first word, was air. ______________________________________________ This, and associated press, has been seen by 8.4 million people
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Construction,Creative Economy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description EPSRC
Amount £1,366,123 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I032541/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
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Description EPSRC
Amount £103,315 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/I030786/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
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Description University of Sheffield
Amount £130,659 (GBP)
Funding ID URMS 131640 
Organisation University of Sheffield 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
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