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Enhanced thermal conductivity of flexible cotton fabrics coated with reactive MWCNT nanofluid for potential application in thermal conductivity coatings and fire warning

  • Qiao Yu
  • Puxin Weng
  • Lu Han
  • Xianze YinEmail author
  • Zhenming Chen
  • Xinghui HuEmail author
  • Luoxin Wang
  • Hua Wang
Original Research


It is a challenge to fabricate a flexible and smart cotton fabric sensor with improved thermal conductivity while retaining electrical insulation. Herein, reactive multiwall carbon nanotube (MWCNT) nanofluid exhibiting soft glassy rheological behavior was successfully synthesized through simultaneous surface modification by (3-aminopropyl) triethoxysilane and dimethyloctadecyl[3-(trimethoxysilyl)propyl] ammonium chloride followed by ion-exchange reaction with nonylphenol polyoxyethylene ether sodium sulfate. Then, MWCNT nanofluid was used to coat MWCNT nanofluid/cotton fabrics by simple spraying. It was found that the addition of MWCNT nanofluid improved the thermal conductivity while preserving electrical insulation of the cotton fabric. The maximum thermal conductivity of MWCNT nanofluid/cotton fabric is 2.42 times that of cotton fabric. It was also observed that surface grafted non-conductive silane molecules and organic ion salt of MWCNT hinder the MWCNT inter-contacting with each other to form a conductive network for retaining electrical insulation. In addition, during the combustion process of cotton fabric, surface grafted organic molecules of MWCNT nanofluid began to decompose and thus promote the formation of the MWCNT conductive network, indicated by the presence of electric current. This could be valuable as a low-voltage DC power source for potential applications in fire alarm sensors.


Cotton fabric Nanofluid MWCNT Thermal conductivity Electric insulation 



This work was partially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51403165). Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province (2018CFB685, 2018CFB267), Graduate Innovation Fund of Wuhan Textile University (52300200101), the Foundation of Wuhan Textile University (183004) and Open Project Program of High-Tech Organic Fibers Key Laboratory of Sichuan Province (PLN2016-02) and Opening Project of Guangxi Key Laboratory of Calcium Carbonate Resources Comprehensive Utilization (HZXYKFKT201808), the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program of Hubei province (201810495060). L.H. also acknowledges partial financial support by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Science Material Science and Engineering Division. We sincerely thank Benjamin J. Stacy to modify the language throughout the text.

Supplementary material

10570_2019_2592_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1217 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of New Textile Materials & Advanced Processing Technology, College of Materials Science and EngineeringWuhan Textile UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Accounting CollegeWuhan Textile UniversityWuhanPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Chemical Sciences DivisionOak RidgeUSA
  4. 4.Guangxi Key Laboratory of Calcium Carbonate Resources Comprehensive UtilizationHezhou UniversityHezhouPeople’s Republic of China

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