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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Air Conditioned Comfort

ComforTemp® Nonwovens provide dynamic climate control in interactive products for apparel, footwear and other applications.

By Janet Bealer Rodie, Assistant Editor

T he first consumer products containing ComforTemp® Nonwovens, a joint development of Frisby Technologies Inc., Winston-Salem, N.C., developer of ComforTemp dynamic climate control materials, and Germany-based Freudenberg Vliesstoffe KG, manufacturer of nonwoven materials, is expected on the market by late this year. Initial targeted end-uses for the new product line include insulation and linings for apparel, footwear, bedding and home furnishings.

Originally developed beginning in 1989 for NASA and tested by Navy Seals, the ComforTemp technology involves the use of microencapsulated phase change materials (Micro PCMs) to provide thermal management properties to a wide variety of materials, including foams, gels, fabrics, rubber and leather, among others. Frisby’s first commercial product was a foam-based material introduced in late 1997.


The Micro PCMs used in ComforTemp® materials absorb or release heat to maintain a preset temperature in the surrounding environment. 

  Inner Workings

ComforTemp products contain Thermasorb® microcapsules, which have an extremely thin, impermeable plastic shell wall and contain N paraffin, a form of paraffin that is 95-percent pure. In various forms, N paraffin is able to maintain particular temperatures, according to Duncan Russell, president and COO, Frisby Technologies. Interacting with the environment, the Micro PCMs absorb and store heat from warmer surroundings, changing from solid to liquid, without changing temperature themselves. Conversely, they give off heat, changing from liquid to solid, in a cooler environment. The materials are continuously “recharged” as the level of activity or surrounding conditions change. Temperatures can be set precisely to suit the intended application.

“Micro PCMs are very intriguing temperature-management materials that keep people from becoming too cold or too hot,” Russell said. ComforTemp materials give clothing designers the flexibility to create multi-season apparel using existing materials. A thin ComforTemp Nonwoven lining can be sewn into a jacket, as it doesn’t need to be removed to make the jacket suitable for warmer weather.

The nonwoven fabric for apparel and footwear applications has its temperature set at 83°F and feels cool to the touch. A leather jacket containing a ComforTemp Nonwoven lining was described as feeling as though it was “air-conditioned” by the wearer. The lining absorbed his body heat, leaving him feeling cool and comfortable. Later, should he find himself in a cold environment, the lining would release the stored heat to keep him warm, with no need for further insulation.

The product also has medical and automotive applications. Russell said it can replace any nonwoven used in medical applications, including orthotics, seating or surface-transfer materials.

The automotive industry is developing prototypes for seating that could replace electrically heated seats and, therefore, reduce energy consumption.

For more information about ComforTemp® Nonwovens, contact Atticus Simpson, Quixote Group LLC,(336) 544-2407.

September 2001