Thermal Conductivity of Quilts

Faculty Lead: Emily W. Tow

Student Researcher 

  • Brandon Zhang ‘21

Research Objectives

Used and unsold clothing results in waste, pollution, and economic injustice, particularly in the developing world. At the same time, the threat and effects of climate change drive the need for passive and low-energy heating and cooling methods. We aim to find out how clothing waste can be repurposed to provide insulation and passive thermal control for people and buildings. We are measuring the thermal conductivity of traditional methods of repurposing textiles (e.g., quilting, rag crochet, etc.) and using thermal modeling to explain findings.


We hope to determine which types of textile reuse are the most effective insulators in order to give used textiles a useful second life and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. We hope to share our message of conservation (of textiles and energy) to a wider audience through the creation of textile art.


About Dr. Tow's Research

The Tow Lab addresses sustainability through the study of transport phenomena at the water–energy–food nexus. Current research involves understanding membrane fouling, improving energy efficiency in water reuse, and characterizing the thermal properties of recycled textiles.

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