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Friday, December 10, 2010

Smaller is Better, Say the Masterminds of Nanoscience

Nanotechnology may be built on the science of all things small, but it’s big and getting bigger all the time, one would have to think from all the news about innovative and important “nano” technologies.

Like the news about NanoPhos.

We hadn’t heard of it either, but apparently the name is gaining traction in some corners of the design and construction realm—just not here in the states.

NanoPhos SA is a Greek company that has developed waterproofing and protection products (under the SurfaPore brand name), as well as cement and plaster admixtures (SurfaMix), cleaning and restoration products (DeSalin), and a nanocating that is reported to make surfaces  antimicrobial and self-cleaning (SurfaShield).

Among the newest news about developments from the company’s nanolab is word of a “revolutionary” paint additive that is said to turn “ordinary acrylic paint into a thermal barrier.” The product, SurfaPore ThermoDry, was chosen to be the standard thermal coating for the Shanghai World Expo 2010 Zero Energy Development (ZED) pavilion, the company says.

Shanghai World EXPO 2010

The technology is reported to reflect more than 90% of the infrared spectrum of sunlight and reduce thermal conductivity, while preventing condensation and mold growth.

In addition, one of the company’s antimicrobial nanomaterials, SurfaShield C, was a finalist for the GAIA award at the International Building and Construction Show BIG5 in Dubai. Consideration for the award is based on the “green” and environmentally positive profile of building products, the company says.

The SurfaShield water-based, emulsion product is reported to provide self-cleaning and self-sterilizing functionality that is activated by ambient light.

NanoPhos’s products are distributed in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Mexico, according to the company’s website (www.nanophos.com), although not the U.S. and Canada—yet. Dr. Vasilis Theoharakis, NanoPhos chairman, tells us by email from Greece that the company is “certainly making plans for the North American Market,” noting the establishment of a presence in Mexico.

Either way, it’s not as if some of these concepts are totally unique to NanoPhos. We’ve been reporting on a number of developments in nano and photocatalytically active materials that are reported to offer attractive functionalities such as self-cleaning action and antimicrobial properties. Ultrafine titanium dioxide (TiO2) has been cited as the key material in some of these products, although the NanoPhos website doesn’t divulge particulars on the chemistry.

In any case, we’d much rather let the nanocoating do the job of cleaning and preventing mold than have to do it ourselves. It’s a big job, but in this case smaller is better, according to these nanotech science whizzes.




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