Textiles and moisture


The properties of textile fibers are strongly affected by the atmospheric moisture content. Moisture and humidity influenced on the results of testing of textile materials. Many fibers, particularly the natural fibers are hygroscopic in nature and they will absorb moisture if kept in a humid atmosphere. Conversely, they will tend to lose moisture in a dry atmosphere (a process known as desorption.) Hydrophobic fibers (e.g. polyester) are those which do not absorb moisture if kept in a humid atmosphere.

Significance of moisture absorption  

The importance of moisture relations cannot be overstated. Almost all the physical properties of fibers, yarns and fabrics are influenced by the presence of moisture. The presence or absence of moisture can effect dimensions, mechanical strength, elastic recovery, rigidity and so on.

Mechanisms of moisture absorption   

Moisture absorption in textile fibers occurs through the interaction of water molecules with polar groups within the structure (e.g. OH, -COOH). In ordered (crystalline) parts of the structure, these polar groups are not attached but in disordered (amorphous) regions there can be very free groups which can act as hooks with which the water molecules can link through hydrogen bonding. Thus the absorption of moisture takes place in the amorphous regions only.

Humidity The amount of moisture in air is called as humidity´. humidity and temperature. Therefore it is vital to specify the atmospheric conditions when carry out testing. 2. The amount of water take up by a textile fiber can be expressed in terms of its µregain¶. There are two types of humidity Absolute humidity Relative humidity .Atmospheric conditions and humidity   1. The regain depends on the atmosphere surrounding the material.e. i.

1. Absolute Humidity    ³The actual amount of water vapour present in a specific volume of air is expressed in terms of absolute humidity (AH).´ AH = Mass of water present per unit volume of air The basic unit of absolute humidity is µKgm-3 .

h = vp/svp x100% .2. Relative Humidity  a) b) The 'relative humidity' (RH) of an atmosphere has two alternative (though almost equivalent) definitions: The ratio of the AH of the air to that of air saturated with water vapour at the same temperature & pressure. expressed as a percentage r. The ratio of the actual vapour pressure (VP) to the saturated vapour pressure (SVP) of the air at the same temperature.

Atmosphere ³The relative humidity.´ 1) Saturated atmosphere 2) Standard atmosphere 3) Testing atmosphere . temperature and pressure of the surroundings are termed as atmosphere.

Atmosphere 1.´ 2. Saturated atmosphere: ³The atmosphere saturated with moisture is called as saturated atmosphere. RH = 65% Temperature = 20 0C (at atmospheric pressure) . Standard atmosphere: If the atmosphere has the following specifications then it is called as standard atmosphere.

RH = 65 + 2 % Temperature = 20 + 2 0C (27 + 2 0C in tropics and sub-tropics) .Atmosphere 3. Testing atmosphere: It is an atmosphere in which we performs the tests of the textile products. If the atmosphere has the following specifications then it is called as standard µtesting atmosphere¶.

REGAIN & MOISTURE CONTENT  The amount of the moisture in a sample of material may be expressed in terms of regain or moisture content.  Moisture Regain The 'Moisture Regain' of a textile fiber is defined as: The equilibrium weight of water contained by a specimen expressed as a percentage of its oven-dry weight. That is. R=100(Ws-Wd)/Wd % .

including the water). That is.e.REGAIN & MOISTURE CONTENT  Moisture content: The µMoisture Content¶ of a textile fiber is defined as: The equilibrium weight of water contained by a specimen expressed as a percentage of its total weight (i. M=100(Ws-Wd)/Ws % .

The regain of any given fiber type gives a very good indication of how sensitive that fibers towards moisture. Its actual value will clearly depends on the humidity of the surroundings.REGAIN & MOISTURE CONTENT    Regain is more commonly used than moisture content. .

.REGAIN & MOISTURE CONTENT  Following diagram compares a number of typical fibers under standard testing conditions.

Regain-Humidity Relations of Textiles    If a piece of fabric or other textiles materials is placed in a room in which the humidity is constant. If the air humidity is in the normal range (around 65%rh) then wet fabric would become drier. then it will eventually come to equilibrium by absorbing or desorbing moisture as necessary until it reaches a state of constant regain. . becoming slower as equilibrium is approached. whereas a dry fabric would gradually become wetter. The rate of wetting or drying is rapid at first.

Regain-Humidity Relations of Textiles  Hysteresis: If we plot regain VS time for wet and dry samples of the same material. both tend to be mirror image of one another as indicated in the following diagram. .

Regain-Humidity Relations of Textiles   Hysteresis: However the two curves do not come together at equilibrium. This is an example of Hysteresis. either from wet to dry. It implies that the approach to equilibrium should always be from the same direction (i. the initially wet sample will end up somewhat wetter than the initially dry sample. or else from dry to wet).e.    . no matter how long the two samples remain in the conditioned atmosphere. specifically. and is very important where samples have to be conditioned for testing or other purposes. the equilibrium regain value of the two curve is different.

any given material will produce two different curves. point a is the equilibrium condition at 65 % relative humidity when approached from the wet side. . and point a is the equilibrium regain when approached from the dry side. the regain-r. that is. Because of Hysteresis.h. Curve D is the desorption curve.Regain VS Relative Humidity Curve     Mostly the plots of Regain VS Relative Humidity (RH) are S-shaped (often described as µsigmoidal¶). percentage relation as a material takes up moisture. For instance. the absorption curve and the desorption curve (desorption curve is always higher). this is the hysteresis effect. Curve A is the absorption curve.

Regain VS Relative Humidity Curve .

Regain VS Relative Humidity Curve .

.Absorption curves of various materials  The following should be noted with regard to absorption curves.

such as. 4.Factors Affecting the Regain of Textile Materials  1. Relative Humidity Time Temperature The Previous History of The Sample . There are different factors that effect the regain of the textile materials. 3. 2.

2. The size and form of sample The type of material External conditions a) b) c) . Time: A material placed in a given atmosphere takes a certain time to reach equilibrium.Factors Affecting the Regain of Textile Materials 1. The rate of conditioning depends on several factors. such as. If the relative humidity in the air is more then there will be more moisture regain or more rate of conditioning of textile materials and vice versa. Relative Humidity: Relative humidity is the most important factor that affects the regain of textile materials.

The hysteresis is a good example. This effect can be ignored. The previous history of the sample: The previous history of the sample can affect the equilibrium regain of the sample. Processing can also change the regain. When oils. Temperature: The effect of temperature on regain is not important.Factors Affecting the Regain of Textile Materials 3. . A change of 10 0C will give a change in regain of cotton of about 0. waxes and other impurities are removed then regain may change. 4.3 percent.

METHODS OF MEASUREMENT OF RELATIVE HUMIDITY  1) 2) 3) The instruments used to determine the humidity are known as µhygrometers¶ or µpsychrometers¶. Three main types of hygrometers are: The wet-and-dry bulb hygrometer Hair hygrometer Electrolytic hygrometer .

. The temperature difference between wet and dry thermometer bulbs is determined by the evaporation rate.(1) The Wet-and-Dry Bulb Hygrometer  In this type of hygrometer there are two thermometers one of which is surrounded by a wet sleeve of muslin. which in turn can be related to RH through look-up tables.

(1) The Wet-and-Dry Bulb Hygrometer      EXAMPLE: Dry bulb reading =20 OC. Wet bulb reading = 14 OC Difference = 6 OC RH percent from the table = 51% .


Wet-and-dry bulb hygrometer. Its disadvantages are that it requires a constant supply of distilled water and the fact that it is an indirect method. wall mounted Wet-and-dry bulb hygrometer.(1) The Wet-and-Dry Bulb Hygrometer    a) b) c) d) Its advantages include the simplicity and the fact that it needs no calibration. Its various types are. sling type Assmann type hygrometer Recording type hygrometer . since tables are needed.

The main advantages of this type of hygrometer are the direct reading and elimination of distilled water. it does not give great accuracy. . the relative humidity can be indicated directly and. recorded on a chart. It is a fact that. By connecting a band of hairs to a suitable lever system. if needed. Drawbacks (or disadvantages) are also present such as it requires frequent calibration and it have slow response to change in atmospheric conditions.(2) Hair Hygrometer    Human hair has the property of lengthening or shortening as the humidity of the air increases or decreases.

g. .(3) Electrolytic Hygrometer   Electrolytic hygrometer operates by measuring the electrical current flowing in a skein of very fine fibers impregnated with salt solution (e. The heart of this type of instrument is an element consisting of a plastic frame carrying platinum-clad electrodes. Skein of very fine fibers impregnated with a chemical is wound across these electrodes. Lithium Chloride) which have the property of very rapidly attaining equilibrium with the surrounding atmosphere.

(3) Electrolytic Hygrometer       1) 2) Three advantages of electrolytic hygrometer are: They can have very fast response They take direct reading They require only low air currents They have no particular disadvantage. Some other types of hygrometer are. Electrical Hygrometer DuPont Hygrometer .

3. There are basically four effects of regain on fiber properties. Dimensions Mechanical properties Electrical properties Thermal effects .EFFECTS OF REGAIN ON FIBER PROPERTIES  1. such as. 2. 4.

resulting in an overall shrinkage. swelling of the fibers very often causes a tightening up of the structure. . so that the fiber diameter increases by a far greater fraction than does the length. the effect of the water molecules is to push the polymer chains apart laterally.(1) Dimensions of The Fiber  Moisture causes swelling of textile fibers. In woven fabrics. Because the fiber structure is essentially aligned along the fiber axis.

(1) Dimensions of The Fiber .

so that the fibers become more easily stretched.(1) Dimensions of The Fiber  Shrinkage due to swelling is not the only problem: a phenomenon known as 'hygral expansion' may also be encountered. . This effect is partly due to the reduction in stiffness which accompanies the absorption of water.

thus reducing fiber strength. Exceptions to this include the vegetable fibers. such as cotton. in which water actually increases the strength.(2) Mechanical Properties  Generally. the presence of water molecules in the fiber structure reduces the strength of the bonds holding the polymer chains together. .

the shapes of fiber stress-strain curves are changed. Other effects include changes in: Crease recovery Extensibility Flexibility µSetting ability¶ by finishing process .(2) Mechanical Properties       In general. The yield point may be dramatically lowered.

Changes in dielectric properties can be a source of error in measuring the uniformity of slivers.(3) Electrical Properties     Most textile fibers when dry have very high electrical resistance. rovings. Dielectric characteristics are also influenced by humidity. as is susceptibility to electrostatic problems. Where strict control of regain is required (e. when capacitance-type instruments are used.g. etc. in warp sizing) dielectric effects can be used in the design of the control system . but this can fall by factors of hundreds of thousands at elevated regains.

(4) Thermal Effects  Just like electrical resistance. the thermal resistance (or insulating ability) of fiber is reduced on increasing humidity. but the air that is trapped within the fabric surface (Air has very thermal conductivity).). . a garment made form hygroscopic fibers gives better protection against cold in dry atmosphere than a damp one (humid atm. It is not really the fibers themselves which provide real thermal effects. Thus.

in the case of wool this can be quite considerable. some fibers actually liberate heat when they absorb water. This is reason that why woolen sweaters are so popular in cold and damp climates. For example.(4) Thermal Effects  On the other hand. .

.The Control of the Testing Room Atmosphere (Environmental Control)  To measure the relative humidity of atmosphere is one thing. and to control it is a quite different matter. More or less complicated systems are in use for simultaneous control of temperature and relative humidity (which are not independent of one another). Such control systems are known as µHygrosets¶ or µHumidostates¶. Controlling the atmosphere conditions of a laboratory is essential when standard conditions of testing are specified or when textile materials have to be stored for a long time.