Nanoparticles found promising in beating bad odours

January 27th, 2011 - 8:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 27 (IANS) Scientists are working on eliminating bad odours at the source, rather than masking them with room fresheners. Their research found that a deodorant made from nanoparticles, eliminates odours twice as effectively as today’s gold standard.

Brij Moudgil of Particle Engineering Research Centre, University of Florida in the US and colleagues said consumers use a wide range of materials to battle undesirable odours in clothing, on pets, in rooms, and elsewhere, the journal Langmuir reports.

Most common household air fresheners, for instance, mask odours with pleasing fragrances but do not eliminate them from the environment, according to a statement of the American Chemical Society.

People also apply deodorizing substances that absorb smells. These materials include activated carbon and baking soda. However, these substances tend to have only a weak ability to absorb the chemicals responsible for the odour.

They describe development of a new material consisting of nanoparticles of silica (the main ingredient in beach sand) - each 50,000th times smaller than a human hair - coated with copper.

That metal has well established anti-bacterial and anti-odour properties, and the nanoparticles gave copper a greater surface area to exert its effects.

Tests of the particles against ethyl mercaptan, the stuff that gives natural gas its unpleasant odour, showed that nanoparticles were up to twice as effective as the gold standard - activated carbon - at removing the material’s foul-smelling odour.

Besides fighting odours, the particles also show promise for removing sulphur contaminants found in crude oil and for fighting harmful bacteria, they add.

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