The all-weather clothing you will be wearing—the outcome of a collaboration between the ministry and premier tech and fashion institutes—has a slightly cumbersome name: indigenous encapsulated phase change material (PCM)-based activewear.

‘Initiative aims to provide versatile solution to India’s weather patterns’

“This initiative aims to provide a versatile solution to India’s varying weather patterns, enhancing comfort, and reducing the need for multiple sets of clothing for different weather conditions and environments,” two people aware of the development told Mint.

PCM has found use in various fields of technical textiles, including sports, homewear, and protective textiles, they said.

“The PCM-based textiles will be specially beneficial for army personnel working in extreme weather conditions, from the cold climate of Jammu & Kashmir to the scorching heat of Rajasthan, Telangana, Bihar and other states across the country,” the first person said.

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“Three projects focusing on the development and application of PCM under the National Technical Textiles Mission (NTTM) have been approved, with a total project value of 25.5 crore,” this person said.

Indian Institutes of Technology, Delhi and Ropar, along with the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Telangana, will collaborate on the project.

“Together, they will develop textiles to meet the requirements outlined. This innovative technology enables garments to regulate temperature effectively, offering enhanced comfort and efficiency,” the second person said.

PCMs are substances that release or absorb significant amounts of energy during phase transitions, typically between solid and liquid states.

These transitions allow PCMs to absorb and release thermal energy, making them highly efficient for temperature control. By incorporating PCMs into clothing, garments can maintain an optimal temperature, thereby providing warmth in cold conditions, and a cooling effect in hot environments.

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This technology stands out for its efficiency. Unlike conventional materials, which rely on more heat and require more volume to store the same amount of energy, PCMs can absorb much more heat with less material.

“Incorporating smart fabrics that change their properties in response to temperature changes can lead to innovative and dynamic designs, adding a futuristic and functional aspect to fashion. For example, thermo wear can be designed with sleek, modern aesthetics that appeal to consumers looking for stylish yet functional clothing,” said Devika S Pathak, a professor and department lead for north zone, fashion design department, at Pearl Academy in New Delhi.

“The unique properties of thermal materials can be used to create interesting textures and patterns, adding a new dimension to fashion design,” said Pathak, a specialist in fashion technology.

“This development aligns with global sustainability goals. By reducing the energy required for heating and cooling, PCM-enhanced clothing can contribute to energy conservation efforts, ultimately lowering the carbon footprint associated with temperature regulation,” another industry expert said, asking not to be named.

“This is particularly relevant for India, where energy demand is rapidly increasing, and sustainable solutions are crucial for long-term environmental health,” the expert said.

“The government should collaborate with leading textile manufacturers to bring this technology to market. Consumers can look forward to a new era of smart clothing that not only adapts to their environment but also supports broader environmental sustainability efforts,” said Ashok Kumar, a wholesale trader of readymade garments in Delhi.


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Published: 12 Jun 2024, 07:02 PM IST

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