No sweat over this shirt

How often have you sat in an overcrowded bus on a summer day, irritated by the shirt sticking to your body, wet with sweat? Now, thanks to a new absorbent synthetic fibre, shirts may no longer adhere to the skin, and you may breathe free.

Developed by Pushpa Bajaj, head of the textile department at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, in collaboration with Pasupati Acrylon Ltd, a Delhi-based textile firm, the water-loving fibre is an intelligent blend of normal acrylic and a derivative of cellulose. Dubbed acrysorb, it has all the positive attributes of acrylic plus cotton's penchant for water. Like acrylic, it is extremely strong and does not abrade on use. Its ability to absorb water and sweat is due to the extremely fine pores in the fibre that also let it dry faster and retain heat for a longer period, explains Bajaj.

Its moisture-absorbing prowess apart, the new fibre is not an easy target for moths and insects. It is light, soft, and extremely easy to wash. And it will be available in a wide spectrum of bright unfading colours, says M Dara of Pasupati Acrylon Ltd.

Bajaj has established that acrysorb towels would dry quickly, even faster than cotton, taking the pong out of wet towels and sweat-soaked socks and T-shirts. They are extremely durable and have good colour-fastness. Moreover, says Bajaj, these towels, unlike cotton towels, remain soft on repeated washings. Bajaj says the fibre has been expressly designed to suit the humid Indian weather and would be ideal for towels and garments such as T-shirts, tracksuits and socks. In the light of the present controversy on the export of flammable skirts to the US, Bajaj says that they have plans to make the fibre heat resistant and flameproof. Bajaj and Pasupati Acrylon Ltd have filed a patent application for acrysorb.