An antibacterial polymer that can be used in everyday products such as sportswear, diapers and bandages, without causing resistant bacteria has been discovered by researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The discovery unveils an antibacterial polymer that attaches stably to cellulose and therefore cannot be released into the environment. The team's discovery is based on cellulose fibres embedded in a polymer, which kills bacteria. Cellulose is the most common organic substance in nature and the primary structural component of plant cell walls. The active polymer is so strongly bonded to the fibres of the cellulose material that it does not loosen or leak into the environment via water. The discovery could be an important breakthrough in the search for environmentally-friendly ways to control bacteria while preventing antibiotic resistance and resistant bacteria. Antibacterial agents such as triclosan and silver ions are commonly used in sportswear and shoes to remove unpleasant odors from bacteria formation. But such biocides leak into the environment when the treated garments or surfaces are washed, raising the risk that bacteria will gradually become resistant to their effect. "If someone uses a cloth to wipe a countertop treated with antibacterial agents, and that cloth is rinsed in the sink, those substances are then spread further through the drain and into the environment where they can contaminate soil and water and give rise to bacterial resistance," says Illergård, a member of the teamys. She says that bacteria must come in direct contact with the material for the antibacterial process to work. Because polymer has a positive charge and bacteria a negative charge, the new material actually attracts bacteria. The material does not contain large amounts of polymer; and only non-toxic nitrogen oxides remain after it is burned. Nevertheless, the team's goal for the future is to continue the research and try to replace the antibacterial polymer with an entirely renewable material. The material could find use in cleaning clothes, in sanitation for hospitals and in different kinds of water purification filters.
A team from University of Georgia has come up with novel antimicrobial polymers that can make clothing permanently germ-free. The polymers can be made into a spray-on solution that can be applied to existing clothes, including socks, so that they won't be smelly after wear. The new polymers can be applied to natural and synthetic materials, including plastics, to provide everlasting, non-leaching antimicrobial surfaces on top of the materials. The treatment withstands multiple hot-water laundry cycles. The polymer treatment was developed by making antimicrobial copolymers from a commercially available polymer. The antimicrobial polymers were then attached to surfaces of synthetic polymers, cotton and other materials using flashes of light. The result was a covalently cross-linked polymeric coating that gave a permanent, non-leaching antimicrobial surface. As per the research paper, the polymer treatment kills a wide range of dangerous microorganisms, including Staphylococcus aureus,which cause a range of illnesses; and Escherichia coli, of which some strains can cause food poisoning.
As per IPI, Singapore, a new polymer has been developed using low-cost styrene-maleic anhydride copolymer as an intermediate. This polymer is then electrospun into nanofibers with anti-bacterial properties Its antimicrobial property does not degrade over time. The polymer is applicable to both nonwoven and woven fabrics sold into markets such as filtration, personal hygiene and athletic clothing.
The advantages include