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Porosity in Textiles

Subrata Ghosh, Sujit Kumar Sinha and Pawan Kumar

National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar,
Punjab, India

1. Introduction

In general porosity is the void/open space in the material. Porosity can be defined in many ways
and the description of porosity depends upon the type of material. The porosity does not give any
information about the pore size and its distribution. Porosity in a material is given by ratio of the
voids space (void volume) to the total volume of the material and is given by the formula
∅= (1)

∅ = porosity, 𝑉𝑝 = pore volume, 𝑉𝑇 = total volume of the material

Porosity is expressed as a percentage and the fraction value between 0 and 1. Porosity is used in
many fields of engineering as well as ceramics, earth science, soil mechanics, manufacturing and
Porosity in a material is the result of a pore, so it can be believe that the porosity can be mainly
depends upon the following:
 Number of pores
 Size of the pore
 Type/shape of the pore.
The porosity of material can be characterized by many factors. The factors which determined the
functionality and efficiency of the porous material are as follows:
 Pore size
 Pore size distribution
 Turtuosity
 Effective Porosity
Pore sizes are usually specified by an effective radius of the pore body or neck. The effective
radius relates to the radius of curvature of the air-water interface at which Haines jumps occur.
By capillarity this relates also to the matric pressures at which these occur, as discussed in the

section below. Alternative indicators of size include the cross-sectional area or the volume of a
pore, and the hydraulic radius, defined as the ratio of the cross-sectional area to circumference,
or of pore volume to specific surface (Nimmo, 2004).
In case of textile, pore size is the diameter of the pore formed in the fibre, yarn or fabric. But the
shape of the pore is not circular in nature in an all the cases. The shape of the pore will vary with
different type of textile material. For example the shape of pore will be different in yarn and
fabric and in case of woven fabric the shape of the pore can be rectangular in nature. So the
equivalent diameter (deq) of the pore is more preferable, when the shape of the pore is not
circular in nature (Edward, 1949).
Pores in a yarn are generally formed by the fibre walls and result in open channel capillaries
unlike a regular capillary channel. Such a condition leads to varying capillary flow in the
sections despite the constituent fibres having homogeneous wetting properties (Prewuelz, 2000).
Ito (1993) reported that the wicking behaviour is strongly influenced by the size and continuity
of the capillary formed within the yarn.
Porosity plays an important role in deciding the comfort behavior of the textile material specially
fabric. The comfort of fabric can be defined in many ways “absence of unpleasantness or the
discomfort” or “the neutral state compared to the more active state of the pleasure”. Also the
comfort is influenced by the thermo physiological reaction of the wearer. Fabrics proveds
comfort to wearer, being at the same time a protection barrier against outdoor and indoor
environmental conditions. Thermal comfort of clothing and textiles is strongly related to fabrics
air permeability, water-vapour permeability, and waterproofness (Saville, 2004). These
characteristics are dependent on the porosity and the internal structure of the fabrics (Kothari,
1974: Wilbik 2006). Thermo physiological wear comfort is mainly depends upon the transfer of
air, heat and moisture/liquid to the atmosphere through the fabric. If more air can be trapped in
the fabric than fabric will be more thermal resistant. Transfer of air, heat and moisture/liquid
through the fabric is influenced by the porosity of the fabric. The pore/open space in a fabric that
is filled by the air and in a wet condition this air in the open space is replaced by the water.
Transfer of air and heat through the fabric is directly proportional to the porosity of the fabric.
But the transfer of moisture/liquid through the fabric depends upon the size of capillary or
capillary diameter, which is form by the adjacent fibres. Hence, porosity in an important factor
deciding the comfort behavior of the fabric/garment to the wearer.

Several studies were oriented to the investigation of the porous structure of woven fabrics. The
reason is that the woven structure, while compared to knitted or nonwoven structures, has the
most exactly determined inner geometry, which can be compared to a tube-like porous structure.
Dubroski (2000) has developed a three-factor analytical model to determine the volume porosity
of woven fabrics and later on the same author presented a geometrical model of the porosity of
woven structures, based on the basic characteristics of a fabric: i.e., linear density, weave factor,
and relative fabric density. Volume porosity was used in the paper of Militky et al. (2010) to
predict the air permeability of 27 of plain woven samples with constant warp density and
changeable weft settings.
The porosity in a textile material can be influenced by the many factors. The main factors which
are influencing the porosity being a structure unit of textile materials are fibre, yarn and fabric
This chapter deals with the porosity of the textile materials, different factors influencing the
porosity, methods of measurement of porosity in different textile material and their application.

1.2 Porosity in textile fibres

Recently found natural fibre and synthetic fibres are used to achieve functional properties of the
garment for specific application. In textile many types of fibres are used to produce the different
type of material according to the end use application. The different variety of fibre can be
circular/non circular cross-section fibres, multi-lobe fibres and hollow fibre. Hollow fibre can
provide greater bulk and provide improved heat and moisture management properties compared
to conventional fibre. Porous hollow fibres can also be used in a variety of ultra filtration
application and as support for ultrathin semi permeable membranes. The functional utility of the
fibres is dependent upon their porosity and pore dimensions. Spun fibres display a wide range of
pore distribution when compared to the fine cylindrical capillaries that extended wall to wall in
textile yarns.

1.2.1 Porosity in manmade textile fibres

Porosity in textile fibres is generated during the spinning of the fibres. The fibre will be centrally
hollow and the shape of the hollow and number of channels depends upon the shape and size of

the spinneret. The fibre form after will hollowness/space is occupied by the air/liquid depends
upon the end use application.

Polyster fibre Octa polyester fibre

Nylon fibres with four channels Fabric made with hollow fibres

Fig. 1 Porous Man Made Fibres

1.2.2 Porosity in natural textile fibres

Kapok (Ceiba pentandra) is a highly lignified organic seed fibre, containing 35-50% of
cellulose, 22–45% of hemicelluloses, 15–22% of lignin and 2–3% of waxes. It also contains
smaller quantities of starch, about 2.1% of proteins, and inorganic substances, notably iron
(1.3–2.5%). Kapok contains 70–80% of air and provides excellent thermal and acoustic
insulation. The absolute density of a kapok cell wall is 1.474 g/cm3, whilst the density of fibres
by considering about 74% of lumen is only 0.384 g/cm3 (Cook 2006).

Kapok fibre Akund floss fibre

Fig. 2 Porosity in natural textile fibres

Akund Floss fibre is a relatively new member in the class of natural fibres. Bacause of its
excellent properties, it has become one of the new ecological materials, which have huge
development potential. The length of akund floss fibres is about 31-40mm and its linear density
is about 1 dtex. Its diameter is about 12-42 microns. Its projection diameter is close to kapok. It
contains relatively large amount of lignin and crystallinity is about 28.92%. The fibre has a large
hollow like an air filled pipe with seal tail. This fibre is about 80% of its structure is hollow and
due to smooth structure caousing poor inter fibre friction. This is one of the lightest natural fibre
and its density is nearly 0.9g/cm3 (Maity, 2014).

Porosity facilitates the absorption of moisture, liquid lubricants, dye, oils and steam by the fibres
so as to thoroughly permeate the fibre. Porosity in a fibre is important in wet processing.
The natural and manmade fibres differ greatly in respect of porosity which in turn affects other
properties of fibres and consequently the processing of fibres during textile manufacture. The
natural fibres have higher porosity than synthetic fibres (Murthy, 2016).

1.2.3 Factors influencing porosity of fibres

a. Hollowness percentage
b. Number of pores within the fibre
c. Type of fibres

1.2.4 Measurement of porosity in textile fibre

Porosity is a rather easy parameter to define, but certainly not so easy to quantify. The reason is
that the void/space in fibres can span from few nanometres to centimetres or larger. There is

really no one method that can adequately cover this enormous range in scale. In addition, the
porosity can be modified or changed by a variety of processes during the test such as
deformation, hydrothermal alteration and producing secondary or fracture porosity. Finally, the
pore shape and connection structure (open and closed) have a significant effect on the porosity
results depending on the testing approach (Bismarck, 2002; Brewer, 2014).

Dye absorption technique

The use of classical dye absorption techniques can provide information which relates
quantitatively to fibre porosity. The measurement of accessible volume will be of value in
predicting the uptake behaviour of other textile process chemicals. In some cases the accessible
volume correlates with the value for total pore volume determined by centrifugation. The
accessible volume represents the internal void space in which the dye bath species are able to
diffuse (Ibbett, 2006).

Image analysis method

In case of hollow mamade fibres image processing technique can also be used to measure the
porosity percentage from cross-sectional area of the hollow fibres. With the help of images
obtained from the high resolution camera, the images can be process on the software to measure
the total cross-section area of the fibre and area of the hollow portion and percentage hollowness
can be determined by using following formula

𝑡𝑜𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑎 𝑜𝑓 ℎ𝑜𝑙𝑙𝑜𝑤 𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑖𝑛 𝑓𝑖𝑏𝑟𝑒 𝑐𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑠−𝑠𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛

𝑃𝑜𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦 % = 𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑎 𝑜𝑓 𝑐𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑠−𝑠𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑓 𝑓𝑖𝑏𝑟𝑒
× 100 (2)

Fig. 3. Image analysis to measure the porous area of the fibre cross-section using the software
Leica QWin (Tran et. al. 2015).

According to the images of the fibres, the mean fibre diameter and hollow diameter can be
calculated from the images Hollow fibre density density can also be calculated, which was
calculated by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) is one of the most popular imaging
techniques (Zhu, 2015).
Porosity can be measured by image analysis based on scanning electron microscopy
incorporating digital image processing. In addition, the dimension, shape and the number of
pores in bio-aggregates and bio-composites can be inspected by image processing analysis. The
image analysis was developed using various mathematical morphology algorithms to provide a
complete pore size distribution (PSD) curve for each sample. The main image processing tasks
are sample preparation, specimen scanning process, image enhancement, pixel classification, and
pixel clustering (Kaestner et. al. 2008; Dougal et. al. 2007).
X-ray computed tomography (XRCT) has been used to characterize the cellular microstructure
and porosity of bio-aggregates materials. This method can produce the non-destructive and three-
dimensional images to quantify the micro-structure such as pore size distribution, porosity and
tortuosity of the porous network. X-ray radiography physics is based on the Beer-Lambert law
(Maire et al. 2001; Dougal et al. 2007; Roche et al. 2010).

Mercury intrusion porosimetry

Mercury intrusion porosimetry (MIP) is a powerful technique which can be used to explore the
structure of pores larger than about 3.5 nm. In MIP, the volume of liquid metal that penetrates a
solid is measured as a function of applied pressure. Subsequent analysis is based on the capillary
law governing liquid penetration into small pores. Since mercury is a non-wetting liquid for most
materials (its contact angle is greater than 90°), an externally imposed pressure is required to
force it into the pores of a porous solid. The smaller the pore size, the greater the pressure
required to force the mercury into the pore. In general, penetration data are analyzed using the
Washburn equation (Washburn 1921). This relates the radius r of pores (assumed to be
cylindrical) to the imposed pressure P eq. (3) as follows

𝑃= (3)

Where 𝛾 = Interfacial energy (surface tension) of mercury
𝜃 = Contact angle of mercury with the material

Common values of γ and θ (which assume interfaces involving a gas or vapour phase) are 485
mJ/m2 and 140°. Whilst pores are rarely cylindrical, the Washburn equation is generally
accepted as a practical method of analyzing what are normally very complex pore systems
(Lawrence 2007).

1.3 Porosity in textile yarn

The physical, mechanical and end use characteristics of any yarn largely depend on the
properties and the arrangement of its constituent fibres. The arrangement of the fibres plays
important role in deciding the level of inter-fibre cohesion and openness in structure. The former
influences its mechanical properties while the later influences permeable and fluid transmission
behaviour. A relatively open structure should offer good permeable, heat regulation and dye
absorption/retention characteristics but may cause a negative impact on its mechanical
behaviour. For optimum performance, a balance between compactness and openness is
necessary. The arrangement of fibre in a yarn during its formation depends largely on tension
condition in individual fibre, influenced by parameters related to the fibre, yarn and process. To
derive comfort characteristics one may prefer an open structure but from the point of view of
strength and durability, compacted structure is desirable. The nature of openness in the structure
is not only influenced by the size of the pore but also on the geometry and distribution of pores.
The geometry of such pores influenced by the arrangement of fibres influences the moisture
transportation and permeability, which is important for comfort in a garment. In order to impart
comfort characteristics, a permeable structure is desired. A staple fibre by virtue of its limited
length and other constraints cannot produce fully compacted structure. For an optimum
performance a balance between the permeability and cohesive structure is necessary. An
estimation of the openness of the structure may help in designing product for specific

1.3.1 Factors influencing porosity in yarns

 Number of fibres in the yarn
 Twist factor applied to the yarn

 Spinning used to spun the yarn
 Type of fibre/cross-section shape of the fibres used to spun yarn

Measurement of porosity in yarn

Theoretical measurement of porosity in yarn

Yarn porosity depends to a large extent on the way in which the constituent fibres or filaments
are arranged within the yarn. Schwarz (1951) introduced the concept of open and close packing
of fibres in yarn considering core and layer concept where packing of fibres was defined with
varying number of fibres (1-6) at the central position. Theoretical estimation of the geometry of
pore for both open and close packing of fibres. A mathematical expression to determine the
porosity and pore size was derived.
Two types of packing, viz; hexagonal close packing and hexagonal open packing were
considered for calculation. Mathematical expressions to calculate the average pore size, number
of pores and porosity were derived.
i. Non compressible fibres are of circular cross section of diameter df.

ii. For both hexagonal close and open packing a yarn can have one or more number of fibres in

the centre.

iii. All fibres in a layer touch each other and also touch the fibres in the inner and in subsequent

layers for close packing.

iv. For open packing, the fibres are equidistant and do not touch each other and no fibre can be

placed in between. This implies that the distance (b) between two fibres satisfies the relation

0 < b < df.

v. Small segment of circular cross-section of fibre (Figure 5) is straight

vi. The inter fibre spaces in either cases (close packing or in open packing) are same.

Measurement of Porosity in hexagonal packing in yarn

The Figure 4 is the schematic representation of possible arrangement of fibres in the cross
section for hexagonal close packing with one, two, three and four fibres in the centre

Fig. 4 Hexagonal close packing in yarn with varying number of fibres at the centre

Fig. 5 Geometry of the available spaces between adjacent fibres

𝑇𝑜𝑡𝑎𝑙 𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑎 𝑜𝑓 𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑒 (𝐴𝑝 ) = 𝑛𝑝 0.040𝑑𝑓2 , 𝑛𝑝 𝑖𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑛𝑢𝑚𝑏𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑒 (4)
From the arrangement of fibres within the structure, the number of fibres and pores can be
represented by the formula given in Table 1. The layer wise calculation of number of fibres and
number of pores in yarn is given in Table 2.
Number of Formula for Formula for
fibre at yarn number of fibres number of pores
centre (except 1st layer) (except 1st layer)
(Hearle, 1969)
1 6(𝑛 − 1) 6(𝑛 − 1) + 6(𝑛 − 2)
2 2 + 6(𝑛 − 1) 4 + 6(𝑛 − 1) + 6(𝑛 − 2)
3 3 + 6(𝑛 − 1) 6 + 6(𝑛 − 1) + 6(𝑛 − 2)
4 4 + 6(𝑛 − 1) 8 + 6(𝑛 − 1) + 6(𝑛 − 2)
here, n is the layer number
Table 1. Number of fibres and pores in hexagonal close packing

Layer Number of Cumulative Number
number fibres in layer total fibre of pore
1 1 1 0
2 6 7 6
3 12 19 18
4 18 37 30
5 24 61 42
6 30 91 54
7 36 127 66
8 42 169 78
9 48 217 90
10 54 271 102

Total 271 486

Table 2. Layer wise calculation of number of fibres and pores in yarn with single fibre at centre

Now porosity in the yarn can be calculated using the formula given below:
𝑃𝑜𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦 % = × 100 (5)
𝐴𝑓 +𝐴𝑝

Here Af = Total area of fibres, Ap = Total area of pores

Hexagonal open packing

In hexagonal open packing the fibres are assumed to be arranged in a hexagon where fibres do
not touch each other. Such arrangement with one central fibre is represented in figure 6.

Fig. 6 Geometry for hexagonal open packing

√3 2
𝑑𝑒𝑞 = √ 𝜋 (𝑏 + 2𝑟𝑓 ) − 2𝑟𝑓2 (6)

In a conventional ring spun yarn the porosity generally varies from 0.6-.0.7 [21]. So, for an
arbitrary value of b =1.2𝑟𝑓 , for which the porosity remains in this limit the corresponding
𝑑𝑒𝑞 is given by,

√3 2
𝑑𝑒𝑞 = √ (1.2𝑟𝑓 + 2𝑟𝑓 ) − 2𝑟𝑓2
𝑑𝑒𝑞 = 0.96𝑑𝑓 (7)
It is evident that the value of ‘b’ ranges from 0 to df. If the value of ‘b’ coincides with the
terminal values ‘0’ & df then the open packing pattern does not exist. Either the fibres to touch
each other in the former case or a new fibre can occupy the space in the later case. So by
assuming different possible values of b, the area of pore and total pore area can be calculated.

Measurement of porosity and pore size in open packed yarn

(a) Yarn is of circular cross-section
(b) Fibres are non compressible & circular in cross-section.
(c) Fibres in the yarn may or may not touch each other
(e) Open space between the fibres may or may not be of same size

In this method overall number of fibres in the yarn was calculated from the ratio of yarn count
(tex) to the fibre fineness value. The yarn with circular cross-section in which fibres may or may
not touch with each other and pore present between the fibres are also of unequal size as shown
in Figure 7.

Figure 7 Packing of with circular cross-section

𝑁𝑦 𝑁𝑦 𝜋
𝐴𝑟𝑒𝑎 𝑜𝑓 𝑜𝑝𝑒𝑛 𝑠𝑝𝑎𝑐𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑦𝑎𝑟𝑛 = [105 ×𝜌 −𝑁 𝑑𝑓2 ] (8)
𝑦𝑜 𝑓 4

4 𝑁𝑦 ×10−5 𝑛
𝑑1 = √[𝑛 × − 𝑛 𝑑𝑓2 ] (9)
1 𝜋 𝜌𝑦𝑜 1

Porosity of the yarn can be measured by using the eq. 8 and diameter of the pore can also be

calculated by assuming the number of pores available in the yarn equal to the number of fibres

present in that yarn. Expression for measurement of diameter is given in eq. 9.

Experimental measurement of porosity in yarn

For preparation of yarn cross-section 2-hydroxyethyl-methacrylate resin, benzoyl peroxide
activator and dimethyl sulfoxide hardener was used. Different compositions were tried for the
preparation of the embedding medium but the combination given in Table 3 below [22] has
shown excellent preservation and very good light transmission property enabling easy
microscopy. Each yarn specimen was passed through the polymeric tube ensuring its centring in
it and the slackness was removed. A rubber seal at the top ensured the centring of the yarn and
the leakage of the mixing was restricted by using epoxy based adhesive at the bottom. A fresh
embedding medium was then injected into the tube and was kept under UV light for 35 to 45
minutes maintaining the temperature in the range of 37o- 40oC. This curing process assisted the
hardening of the embedding material and made it suitable for sectioning by a microtome. In our
experience yarn cross-section of 15𝜇𝑚 was good for satisfactory view and thinner cross-sections
exhibited the problem of distortion and thicker sections resulted vague rims for both fibre and

Table 3. Composition of embedding medium

Preparation of 50ml Resin + 0.5gm of Activator and dissolve it
Infiltration solution completely with stirrer
Preparation of 15ml Infiltration solution + 1 ml Hardener mix
embedding medium thoroughly and use it immediately

The sections were then mounted on a standard slide and wetted with toluene for illumination of
the embedding material facilitating clear view of the yarn sections. The slices were then

examined under an optical microscope (using 40x10 resolution) and the images were collected
and stored for further analysis. At least ten observations were made for each sample.
In order to determine the packing density and measuring the yarn diameter, seven concentric
rings of equal area were drawn as shown in figure 8.

Fig. 8. Schematic diagram of concentric circles with equal area

The number of fibres polyester and PVA fibres to be counted and the porosity can be calculated
by the ratio of total area covered by the fibres in a given zone to that of zone in the cross-section.
Porosity hence can be represented by;
𝑃𝑜𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦% = (1 − ) × 100 (10)

𝐴𝑓 = total fibre cross-sectional area, 𝐴𝑦 = total cross-section area of all the zone

1.4 Porosity in fabric

Woven fabric
Textile fabric play an important role in clothing besides of this it would be difficult to imagine
the processes of filtration without the flat textiles. Textile fabric can be divided into three main
groups: woven fabric, knitted fabrics and non woven textiles.
The porosity of the textile fabrics is defined as voids; the textile fabric volume is generally
occupied by a mixture of three components: fibres, air and water (Jacksic, 2010).
Porosity of the fabric is generally responsible for the characteristics of the fabric like air
permeability, bending rigidity of the fabric as well as comfort behavior of the fabric. In case
application of fabric for filtration purposes it also impact on the filtration efficiency.
Woven fabric porosity is the resultant of spacing between the yarn, structure of the yarn
especially on the packing density of the yarn and the porosity of the fibre itself. Because the air

not only occupy the spaces between the yarns but it also occupies the space between the fibres
and within the fibres as well figure 9.
Fibres are being the fundamental units of a textile fabric. Porosity in the fabric is the percentage
of open space per unit volume of a fabric and it is the ratio of open space to the volume of porous
material calculated from the thickness and weight per unit area of the fabric using formulae
Porosity in fabric (%) = 𝛿𝑓 × 100 (11)

𝛿𝑓 = Specific gravity of the fibres, 𝛿𝐹 = Specific gravity of the Fabric

𝑚𝑎𝑠𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑓𝑖𝑏𝑟𝑒
Specific gravity of a fibre can be measured by 𝛿𝑓 =
𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑓𝑖𝑏𝑟𝑒
𝑚𝑎𝑠𝑠 𝑝𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑞𝑢𝑎𝑟𝑒 𝑚𝑒𝑡𝑒𝑟 𝑜𝑓 𝑓𝑎𝑏𝑟𝑖𝑐
Specific gravity of a fabric can be measured by 𝛿𝐹 = 1000×𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑐𝑘𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑎𝑏𝑟𝑖𝑐

Fabrics as a textile material can be made by three different ways are given as follows:
1. Woven fabric – Interlacement of warp and weft yarn
2. Knitted fabric – Intermeshing of loops of yarns
3. Non woven fabric – by entanglements and binding of fibres by suitable methods

(a) (b) (c)

Fig.9 (a) Woven Fabric (b) Knitted Fabric (c) Non woven fabric (Red circle indicating a pore in

In a textile fabric porosity can be visualize as:

 Pore between yarns or inter yarn porosity in fabric (Macro pores, pore size < 2nm)
 Pore between fibres in a yarn or inter fibre porosity in fabric (Micro pores, pore size >
 Pore within the fibre intra fibre porosity in fabric (Micro pores) (Edward, 1949)

The total inter yarns and inter fibres porosity is dependent upon fibre finness and fibre shape,
type of woven fabric structure, number of yarns per inch and yarn twist.
Non-woven fabric made directly from the fibres with a suitable manufacturing contains relatively
high volume of air and very complex structure of fabric due to random arrangement of fibres.

1.4.1 Factors influencing porosity in fabric

Woven fabric
Woven fabrics, compared with the knitted fabrics or non woven fabrics have the most exactly
determined inner geometrical. The following factors are influencing the pororsity in woven
 Weave structure used to make the fabric
 EPI and PPI in fabric
 Linear density of the yarn and twist level in the yarn (Xie S., 2004)
Knitted fabric
 Course and wales count
 Yarn linear density
 Stitch density
 Thickness of the fabric
 Other geometrical parameters of the fabric which characterized the structure (karaguzel
Nonwoven fabric
 Fibre diameter and fibre fraction volume
 Fibre orientation distribution characteristics
 Thickness of the fabric/ number of layers
 GSM of the fabric
 Type of non woven fabric (Simmonds, 2007; Rawal, 2010) Image Analysis Method

The non-destructive analysis for determination of the pores size of a woven structure requires a
microscope and a digital camera, as well as software for automatic measurement of the area of
closed contours. Image-based techniques can be prohibitively tedious because enough pores must

be analyzed to give an adequate statistical representation. They can give a wealth of information,
however, on related aspects such as pore shape and connectivity that is not obtainable otherwise.
Porosity of the single layer textile fabric can be expressed by using parameters like average pore
size, number of pores, etc. Xu (2005) and Ogulata (2006) used the following equation for
calculation of porosity.
 Taking the digital images of each sample under 4 times enlargement. It was found that
different number of pores was included in a single image. The differences in the warp and
weft density determine the number of pores in the visible zone of the eye-lens.
 Transformation to a negative image. The negative image is more appropriate for
measurement of the pore area, as the black area has higher contrast with the white yarns.
An image captured for Sample 8 and the measurement of the pore’s area on its negative
view (figure 10).
 Measurement of the pore areas. The interstices between warp and weft threads are
extremely irregular as size and shape. The operator is inclined to measure only the most
visible pores, which will lead to large errors in the geometrical model of the woven
structure. Therefore a prescription was set that the area of all pores in the taken
microscopic image must be ensured. 100 pores all together were measured for each
woven sample.

Figure 10 image captured for measurement of pore area

Table 4. Structural characteristics of woven fabric

Table 5 Pore size measurement

Determination of pore size of woven fabric through image analysis methods also gives us the
information that the pores between warp and weft threads are extremely irregular with respect to
size and shape.

18 Geometrical method to predict the porosity in woven fabric

Dobrovski (2001) presents an experimental model to predict the porosity of a woven fabric made
from staple fibre yarns, particularly with regard to the area of pore cross-section, equivalent pore
diameter, maximum and minimum pore diameters, pore density and open porosity on the basis of
the geometrical parameters of woven structures, i.e. thread linear density, weave factor, and
relative fabric density.
When a weave repeat is treated as three dimensional formation, void spaces are situated in the
fibres between fibres in the threads, and between warps and weft threads in the fabric. Between
threads pore is also called as a macro pores. The weave repeat of a plain weave fabric is shown
in the figure 1.2, in which the field of thread intersection (TI), the field of weave passage (WI)
and the field of macro pore (MP) are designated. The following equations are used to predict the
parameters of woven fabric macro porosity.
𝜋 𝜋 10 10
𝐴𝑒𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑝𝑠𝑒 = ( ) (𝑝1 − 𝑑1 )(𝑝2 − 𝑑2 ) = ( ) {( ) − 𝑑1 } {( ) − 𝑑2 }
4 4 𝑔1 𝑔2
where 𝐴𝑒𝑙𝑙𝑖𝑝𝑠𝑒 = area of elliptical pore cross-section (mm2);
p = thread spacing (mm);
d = thread thickness (mm);
g = thread density (thread cm-1); and
subscript 1,2,indicate warp and weft threads, respectively.
Equivalent pore diameter
𝑑𝑒𝑞𝑣 = (4. 𝐴/𝜋)2 × 1000 (12)
where 𝑑𝑒𝑞𝑣 = equivalent pore diameter (µm); and
A = area of pore cross-section (mm2)
Pore density:
𝑁𝑝 = 𝑔1 𝑔2
𝑁𝑝 = 𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑑𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦 (𝑝𝑜𝑟𝑒𝑠 𝑐𝑚−2 )
g = thread density (threads cm-1)
Open porosity (derived from the cover factor):
𝑑 𝑑 𝑔 𝑔
{𝑑2 𝑔2 + 𝑑1 𝑔1 − ( 1 2 1 2 )}
𝑃𝐴 = 〈1 − [ ]〉 . 100% (13)

where PA = open porosity (%):
g = thread density (threads cm-1)
d = thread thickness (mm); and
subscript 1, 2 indicate warp and weft threads, respectively.

Fig. 11 Ideal model of the porous structure of woven fabric based on the geometrical parameters
of woven structure - ground plan (d=thread thickness, p=thread spacing; 1,2 indicating warp and
weft threads respectively) (Dubrovski, 2001). Porosity Determination in Knitted Fabric

Knitting is the process of forming fabric by interloping yarn in a series of connected loops using
needles. Knitting fabric provides outstanding comfort qualities by the extensible looped
structure. Such knitted structures have a more open character when compared to woven and
braided. Due to the manner in which large proportion of the total volume occupied by a fabric is
usually air space.

Figure: unit cell of a knitted fabric structure based on Suh (1967) model

Porosity is one of the main physical parameters that have a great influence on comfort properties.
Porosity of knitted fabric can be defined as [1 - the ratio between the volumes of the fibers in the
cell to the volume of the unit cell of knitted fabric] (Eltahan, 2016).
𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑓𝑖𝑏𝑟𝑒𝑠
𝑃𝑜𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦 % = [1 − ] × 100
𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑐𝑒𝑙𝑙
𝑊𝑒𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑦𝑎𝑟𝑛 𝑖𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑒𝑙𝑙
𝑉𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑖𝑏𝑟𝑒𝑠 =
𝑓𝑖𝑏𝑟𝑒 𝐷𝑒𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦
𝑊𝑒𝑖𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑦𝑎𝑟𝑛 = 𝐿 ×
Where L, loop length in mm and 106 is the weight of yarn per mm
𝑣𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑐𝑒𝑙𝑙 =

Where ‘t’ is the fabric thicknesss, which is 2d for single jersey i.e.,

𝑡 = 2𝑑

𝑑 = 0.044√𝑡𝑒𝑥 𝑖𝑛 𝑚𝑚

𝑐 × 𝑊 × 𝐿 × 𝑡𝑒𝑥
𝑃𝑜𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦 % = [1 − ] × 100%
𝜌 × 106 × 2 × 0.044√𝑡𝑒𝑥

𝑐 × 𝑊 × 𝐿 × √𝑡𝑒𝑥
𝑃𝑜𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦 % = [1 − ] × 100%
𝜌 × 103 × 88
where C = Courses/mm, W = Wales/mm, L = Loop length in mm, 𝜌 = fibre density in gm/mm3
To simplifying the above equation the volume of the yarn can be calculated from another way as
𝑉𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑦𝑎𝑟𝑛 = 𝑙𝑜𝑜𝑝 𝑙𝑒𝑛𝑔𝑡ℎ × 𝑐𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑠 𝑠𝑒𝑐𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑎𝑟𝑒𝑎
If the yarn is assumed theoretically to be circular in cross section
𝑉𝑜𝑙𝑢𝑚𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑦𝑎𝑟𝑛 = 𝐿 × 𝜋 ×
𝑐 × 𝑤 × 𝐿 × 𝜋 × 𝑑2
𝑃𝑜𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑖𝑡𝑦 % = [1 − ] × 100%
Benltoufa et. al (2007) found that the porosity can be calculated as follows
𝜋𝑑 2 𝐿𝐶𝑊
𝜀 = 1−
T = fabric thickness in cm, L = elementary loop length (cm), d = yarn diameter (cm), C =
number of courses per cm, W = number of wales per cm
A knitted fabric consists of one or more looped yarns as illustrated in figure. So Knitted fabrics
have a loop structure, they have more pores than woven fabrics; therefore, in general, the air
permeability of knitted fabrics is higher than that of woven fabrics of the same weight.

a. b.

Figure 12 (a) Representation of knitted fabric structure (b) stitch diagram of plain knitted fabric

Mean air velocity through one pore

𝑈𝑚 = ( ) ∆𝑃
𝑈𝑚 = mean air velocity through pore
dh = hydraulic diameter of a pore
∆𝑃 = pressure drop of the flow through a duct over the thickness of the fabric
t = thickness of fabric
Flow rate of air for a fabric of porous material Q becomes:
𝑄 = 𝑚. 𝐴1 . 𝑈 (here 𝐴1 = 𝜋 )

where, m = number of pores, and A1= is the cross-sectional area of the pore,
dp = is the diameter of the pore
Area of open space within one loop = (14)

S = surface area of the yarn (mm2), l = loop length (mm)

ry = yarn radius
Due to the differences between ideal and real geometry and the random variation of the fabric
structure, there are no exact dependences between experimental air permeability and predicted
air permeability. Permeability and porosity are strongly related to each other. If a fabric has very
high porosity, it can be assumed that it is permeable.

Measurement of porosity of nonwoven fabric

Fibrous porous media like nonwoven material is an assembly of fibers which are bonded to form
coherent structures such as webs, sheets and batts. A characteristic feature of a porous nonwoven
material is its high porosity (pore volume fraction). However, in spite of being an open structure,
nonwovens have fairly good structural stability which has made nonwovens a preferred choice of
material in many barrier applications such as insulation, air filtration and acoustics. Fluid flow
properties such as air permeability are of immense importance to the performance of nonwoven
materials used in these applications. Fluid flow through a porous medium is influenced by the
amount and structure of the void (pore) space. While amount of void space is easily quantified
by measurement of porosity, characterization of void space structure is more difficult due to its

complex nature. The actual microscopic path followed by fluid flow through the void space is
complicated and is often quantified by the parameter, tortuosity (Vallabh 2010).
Determination of tortuosity therefore provides a good understanding of the mechanism of fluid
flow and the void space complexity in porous media. Tortuosity is defined in eq. (15) as the ratio
of actual flow path length average, Le to the length (thickness), L of the porous medium in the
direction of macroscopic flow.
𝜏= (15)

For determination of pore channel tortuosity; In macroscopic terms, Newtonian fluid flow
through a porous medium at a low Reynolds number is governed by Darcy’s law (eq.16) which
states that the flux q (discharge rate per unit area, with units of length per time, m/s) of the fluid
is proportional to the pressure gradient ΔP (Pa/m).
𝑞= ∆𝑃 (16)

Here, k is the permeability of the porous medium (units of area, m2) and 𝜇 is the dynamic
viscosity of fluid (Pa.s). Using dimensional analysis, it has been suggested that permeability of a
porous medium can be expressed by eq.17.

𝑘= (17)

Here 𝜀 is porosity of the porous medium, 𝜏 is the pore channel tutuosity, and S is the specific
surface area which is defined as the ratio of total interstitial surface area to the bulk volume of
the porous medium. Based on the capillary model which represents a porous material as solid
material as solid material containing parallel tubes of fixed cross-sectional shape, Carmen-
Kozeny equation eq.18 express permeability as a function of porosity and hydraulic radius Rh as
𝑘= 𝜀 (18)

Here hydraulic radius Rh is equal to 𝜀/S, and c is the Kozeny constant which depends upon the
cross section of the tubes. In order to account for the complexity of the actual flow through the
porous medium, tortuosity is introduced in the capillary model, in which case permeability is
expressed as given by Eq. 5 (Koponen, 1998).
Porosity and air permeability are vital properties in some end-use applications such as filtration,
thermal insulation and fluid barriers. The application of various permeability tests to textiles and

textile materials has been practiced in the industry for years, and determining permeability and
porosity have long been subjects of interest in this field (Berkalp, 2006).
Other than the image analysis system used to measure the pore size and porosity some researcher
had made some model to calculate the porosity in non woven fabrics. Simmonds (2007) present a
model to determine the open pore area. Then total number of pores is determined. From these
two, the mean pore area is established. Pores in nonwoven fabrics are polygons with sides
formed by the free length of fibers between crossings. The characteristics of the general nature of
the polygons are known, so the number and length of sides is used to determine the average
wetted perimeter of a pore. The average perimeter and the pore area are used to determine the
pore hydraulic radius from which the mean pore size obtained. The stochastic structure results in
a pore size distribution for which the maximum size is known in terms of the mean pore size.
Hence the maximum pore size is then determined.
Image analysis method
The captured images possess 256 shades of gray. A grey scale image needs to be transformed
into various forms to meet the requirements of applying different techniques. Figure 13 shows
the major procedures of image transformation. Some of image filtering processes were
performed. Both median and morphological filter were used to reduce noise. The image
sharpening process was conducted to distinguish the surface fibres from the background one
(Figure 13b). The resulting images were divided into two parts such as surface fibre and the rest.
The obtained fibre images were converted to binary image by comparing intensities with its
mean intensity pixel by pixel (figure 13c). The porosity as well as pore size distribution were
measured and recorded with programmed software.

Fig. 13. Image transformation process to nonwoven image: (a) original image, (b) filtered image
and (c) binary image. (Sayeb, 2010)

𝜋.𝑤 2 𝜋
𝐴𝑝 = = 2 (19)
𝑐2 (𝑛𝑓 .𝑙)

Where, Ap = mean pore area, w = is the fibre diameter,

c = is the total projected area of fibre per unit area, commonly termed coverage, l = is the fibre
length, nf = total number of fibres per unit area.
2𝑤 2
Mean pore diameter 𝐷𝑝 = = (20)
𝑐 𝑛𝑓 𝑙

Maximum pore diameter, 𝐷𝑝,𝑚𝑎𝑥 = 𝑐
𝐷𝑝,𝑚𝑎𝑥 = (21)

1.6 Application of porosity in textile

Fibrous materials have been widely used in noise control application and most of the porous
sound absorbing materials commercially available are fibrous. Fibrous materials consist of a
series of tunnel like openings which are formed by interstices in material fibres. (Arena, 2010;
Crocker, 2007).
Yang (2012) compared the sound absorption performance of natural fibres and their composites.
Their investigation reveals that natural fibres and their composites had superior capability of
noise reduction than synthetic fibre. The multi scale and hollow lumen structures natural fibres
contribute to the high sound absorption performance.
Due to its wide lumen, kapok has an exceptional capability of liquids retention. Its excellent
thermal and acoustic insulating properties, high buoyancy, and good oil and other non-polar
liquids absorbency distinguish kapok from other cellulosic fibres. Kapok is mainly used in the
form of stuffing and nonwovens; it is rarely used in yarns, mostly due to low cohesivity of its
fibres and their resilience, brittleness, and low strength. New potentials of kapok are in the field
of technical textiles, yachts and boats furnishing, insulating materials in refrigeration systems,
acoustic insulation, industrial wastewaters filtration, removal of spilled oil from water surfaces,
and reinforcement components in polymer composites (Rijavec, 2008).
Majumder et. al. (2015), in their investigation shows that the individual inter yarn pore size in
the fabric played a crucial role determining the ultra violet protection factor along with fabric

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