Liquid glass - protects any surface against dirt and bacteria - May revolutionize cleaning

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Liquid glass - protects any surface against dirt and bacteria - May revolutionize cleaning

It's a non-toxic spray invisible to the human eye that protects almost any surface against dirt and bacteria, whether it is hospital equipment and medical bandages or ancient stone monuments and expensive fabrics and is a form of "liquid glass", harmless to living things and the wider environment. It may be one of the most important, environmentally-friendly products to emerge from the field of nanotechnology, which deals in objects at the molecular end of the size scale.

Such an invention threatens a massive industry of cleaning products. When people can clean their goods with only water and not expensive cleaners, it will destroy an entire industry. So the question is, when, if ever, will we see this spay sold in the supermarkets.

Tests have revealed an astonishing variety of potential uses for the liquid glass, from protecting vineyards against fungal attacks to coating medical implants with non-stick, antibacterial surfaces.

The secret of liquid glass is that it forms an ultra-thin film between 15 and 30 molecules thick – about 500 times thinner than human hair. On this nanoscale – a few millionths of a millimetre thick – liquid glass turns into a highly flexible invisible barrier that repels water, dirt and bacteria, yet is resistant to heat, acids and UV radiation but remains "breathable".

Many companies, hotels, restaurants and medical establishments in Germany , the UK, China and Austria are enjoying big savings in cost and environmental impact in their routine cleaning programmes through application of an award winning “liquid glass” treatment based on nanotechnology.

Virtually every surface on their premises - sinks, baths, fabrics, tiles, floors, worktops, ovens and hobs and swimming pool rims are being treated so that future cleaning can be done without the use of solvent or detergent cleaners, taking less time and hence saving cost of both chemicals and labour. Treated surfaces are microbially protected for the life of the coating and can be cleaned many times before re-application is necessary.

A family-owned German company called Nanopool holds patent rights on the technology behind the liquid glass, which emerged from research at the Institute for New Materials in Saarbrücken. Nanopool is already talking to British firms and the NHS about using the product for a diverse range of applications, from coating designer handbags to spraying the nose cones of high-speed trains.

An NHS hospital in Southport, Lancashire, has just completed a year-long trial where a variety of surfaces were coated with liquid glass to test its ability to resist dirt and microbial growth. The results of the trial are expected to be published next month.

Similar tests by food-processing firms in Germany have shown that sterile surfaces treated with liquid glass are just as clean and free of microbial contamination after being washed in hot water as untreated surfaces washed in the usual way with strong bleach, and the antimicrobial effect continued over many months.

The liquid glass is composed of almost pure silicon dioxide, the chemical constituent of quartz or silica, the most abundant mineral in the Earth's crust. It is quite inert and has no known harmful impact on the environment, unlike many of the domestic and industrial cleaning products its use could help to reduce.

The "easy-clean" properties of the liquid glass could lead to drastic cuts in the amount of potentially toxic cleaning agents used in factories, offices, schools, hospitals and the home, as well as cutting the costs of labour and the amount of time spent scrubbing surfaces.

It works by forming a highly water-repellent or "hydrophobic" layer that resists dirt and bacteria, so that treated surfaces can be quickly be washed clean with plain water, according to Neil McClelland, Nanopool's UK project manager.
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Many UK supermarkets are unwilling to stock the technology as many of the other cleaning products which they sell will become redundant. This is also the case with some major cleaning companies who are scared of having to clean less frequently and to change from using cleaning chemicals to using water in most instances.

In essence, we extract molecules of silicon dioxide from quartz sand and add molecules of water or ethanol depending on which surface is being coated. The really clever part is that there are no added nano-particles, resins or additives – the coatings form and bond due to quantum forces.

Very soon almost every product you purchase will be protected with a highly durable, easy-to-clean coating ... the concept of spray-on glass is mind boggling,
Mr McClelland told The Independent.

A number of leading organisations are conducting cleaning tests with the product, including a train company in Britain which is using it to protect the front of the train as well as inside its carriages; an international chain of luxury hotels; an upmarket fabric and clothing firm; and a German branch of a hamburger chain.

The secret of the glass's unique properties lies in the way it is manufactured so that it can be sold in a solution of water or alcohol, depending of the type of surface to be covered. When sprayed on a surface, the glass solution forms a flexible, ultra-thin film that generates strong electrostatic forces that bind it to the material in question, yet repel water from the opposing, exposed surface.

When bacteria or other microbes land on the glass surface they are not killed, but they cannot divide and replicate easily, he said. This imparts a natural, antibacterial property to the layer of liquid glass similar to the silver-ion surfaces used to protect some kitchen equipment, but with a longer-lasting effect, Mr McClelland claimed.

Sprayed onto outdoor stone or brick, the liquid glass creates a water-resistant surface that is easier to clean. It allows the stone to breathe, preventing a build-up of mildew under the nano-coating. Graffiti is more easily removed from treated statues, without the unsightly "shadowing" from conventional anti-graffiti treatment, Mr McClelland said.

Britain's war graves organisation, Alrewas, is in discussions with Nanopool about treating its stone monuments and Turkish scientists are conducting tests of liquid glass on important national monuments in Turkey, such as the Ataturk Mausoleum in Ankara and the 15th Century Ilyas Bey Mosque in Miletus.

Professor Bekir Eskici of Ankara University, director of the mosque project, said that the liquid glass solution was applied to the building's dome as well as its decorative marble surfaces in August 2008. The surfaces are still water-repellent and there are no colour changes to the materials, Professor Eskici said.

Sascha Schwindt, managing director of Nanopool, said that agricultural companies were also interested in liquid glass as a treatment against fungal attack on plants and seeds. Vineyards are testing it against a common grape fungus and wine makers are interested in using the product to prevent "corking".

Mr Schwindt said that tests have also shown that seeds sprayed with the liquid glass are not just protected against fungal attacks, but germinate and grow faster than untreated seeds. "We think it's because the energy of the seeds is used for development and growth rather than defence against bacteria and fungi in the soil," he said.

The agricultural aspects of the liquid glass came out of tests showing that treated wood is resistant to termite attack. Wood sprayed with the liquid glass survived undamaged after being buried in a termite mound for nine months, Mr Schwindt said.

"Our hypothesis is that the termites do not see the treated wood as wood but as a solid barrier," he said.

Professor Colin Humphreys of Cambridge University, a respected expert in the field of materials science, said that Nanopool's liquid glass appears to have a striking range of applications. "I have to say the product looks impressive," he said.

 http://www.technologymarket...

 http://www.nanopool.eu/couk...

More http://www.independent.co.u...

 http://www.nanoland.net/

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By netchicken: posted on 2-2-2010








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