We write about lots of emerging technologies on this blog, and while most of them are cool, few find their way to the consumer market quickly. Here’s one that did, thanks to us.
Last year, I wrote about lawn furniture coated with a polymer that had titanium dioxide as an ingredient. Titanium dioxide is a pretty common chemical in sunscreens, white paint and even toothpaste. When used in the polymer, it worked well to kill bacteria and fungi. That’s because when sunlight hits it, the ultraviolet rays trigger a chemical reaction that produces free radicals, molecules that have a single electron on their surfaces. Free radicals destroy cell walls and infiltrate the DNA inside, damaging it and killing bacteria and fungi.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany tested it on lawn furniture and found that it was pretty effective at keeping mold off.
After seeing the article on DNews, researchers at a company in the U.K. called Bridgman Furniture decided to make their own version for use on rattan chairs and tables. They didn’t make the same formulation Fraunhofer did. Instead of making a coating, Bridgman mixed the titanium dioxide in with a substance called high-density polyethylene, the material that makes up the fibers in the rattan. They achieved a self-cleaning material, as well.
Robert Bridgman, the marketing manager of Bridgman Furniture (his father is the one who runs the business) told Discovery News the company is the first furniture manufacturer to use the chemical to prevent mold and bacteria buildup on outdoor furniture. They plan to offer the furniture for sale by the end of the summer.
But let’s give it up for basic research, which led to filling a real need.
Credit: Bridgman Furniture