If you’ve spent just a little time watching the videos of superhydrophobic nanotechnology included across the AquaShield website you’re no doubt impressed with the effects, but here are 5 examples of nanotechnology that will change the world….
1: Firefighter Safety
Believe it or not the majority of burns amongst firefighters don’t come from fire, they come from water.
Sounds incredible, but here’s how it happens. Long before flame penetrates the protective gear of
firefighters their own sweat has begun to soak into the material that touches their skin from head to toe.
When the temperature rises, sometimes up to 500 oC, that sweat turns to steam. Now the danger is inside
the firefighter’s protective gear.
Coating the interior of the protective clothing with a superhydrophobic nano-coating will wick away water
based fluids, including sweat allowing it to evaporate in the heat before turning into searing steam. Of
course simply blocking water from absorbing into the fabric can’t completely prevent steam burns, but
some studies indicate that an active superhydrophobic interior could decrease the severity of burns
amongst firefighters by up to 80%.
2: Home Safety and Health
What’s the most dangerous thing in your home? Some might answer their gas stove, or the possibility of
faulty electrical connections, but for those of us in temperate or humid climates the correct answer is mold.
The most common indoor molds are cladosporium, penicillium, alternaria, and aspergillus. These molds
aren’t just ugly and damaging to your home, they’re incredibly hazardous to you and your family. The most
basic effects and first symptoms of mold in the home are skin irritation, nasal stuffiness, or eye irritation.
However, what’s going on behind the scenes inside your body is far worse including chronic lung diseases.
If a home was built from the ground up with each wooden, plaster, and cement component coated with a
superhydrophobic spray it would be entirely impossible for mold to ever form. Seeing as that probably isn’t
the case that doesn’t mean it’s not too late to use superhydrophobic nano-coatings to defend against mold.
Mold will form first in the most humid areas on the most absorbent or soft surfaces such as concrete and
composite wood. From there it will spread across the entire building even far from water sources and even
inside walls. If these areas are free from mold simply treat them with the superhydrophobic spray and
you’ve considerably decreased the chances of mold forming in the home.
3: Cleaner Water
Another example of nanotechnology somewhat in the same sense as above with mold there are numerous
health hazards when water stands still. It’s easy to imagine water travelling through a pipe as always
moving, but this is not the case even if the tap is on. For the first years of a pipes life water will in fact move
quickly through without impediments, but as time goes by the minerals and heavy metals in most tap water
will begin to accumulate on the interior walls of the pipes. This in turn creates further obstructions and
places where the water will begin to form algae. Unlike mold the algae buildup will not provide any
immediate symptoms but the long term effects can be just as devastating to a person’s health.
A superhydrophobic surface doesn’t just provide waterproofing, it causes the water to very literally run
away. This means that the minerals and heavy metals will never have the opportunity to rest and build
obstructions. With a superhydrophobic coating protecting the inside of a buildings pipes algae growth could
be prevented for up to ten years.
4: More Efficient Solar Power
Hard to imagine a superhydrophobic coating designed for water repellency increasing the available
electricity from the sun, but in fact it can increase the electricity gained by up to 40% when used to protect
solar panels. Since the beginning of time there have been solar panels all around us in the form of leaves.
Every leaf on every tree has a very important job, collecting food from the rays of the sun. When man
created solar panels they ran into a problem that leaves don’t have, dirt. Dirt accumulates on the surface of
a solar panel blocking the sun and significantly decreasing energy output.
Leaves have a naturally occurring superhydrophobic surface which uses water to wash away dirt and other
debris that may come to rest on their surface. In this example of nanotechnology this ability can also be
found in manmade superhydrophobic nano-coatings. A single coating with a superhydrophobic spray can
keep a solar panel dirt free for up to three years depending on rainfall. For the duration of these three years
the superhydrophobic coated solar panels will produce up to 40% more energy without requiring constant
maintenance and cleaning.
5: Cleaner Skies and Oceans
If asked to list the top ten pollutants you would no doubt include cars, but did you know that all the cars in
the world produce as much pollution as only 15 freight ships? That’s a frightening fact that only gets more
serious when you learn that there are over 100,000 freight ships traversing our oceans at any given time.
The average freight liner is over 1000 feet in length and weighs over 150,000 tons when fully loaded.
Those 1000 feet of steel very quickly become covered in biological fouling such as algae and
microorganisms, which when combined with the weight of the ship creates a tremendous amount of drag.
It’s that drag which causes the average freight ship to use up to almost 5000 tons of fuel per year spewing
260 times more Sulphur Oxides into the air than cars.
While the US Navy amongst others are experimenting with green technologies for fueling these gas
guzzling monsters there are already simpler solutions for increasing the efficiency of fuel consumption and
decreasing toxic emissions. The answer is to simply decrease the amount of drag as the ship travels
through the water. One example of nanotechnology can do that.
Above we had mentioned how nature uses superhydrophobic surfaces to optimize the leaves of trees, but
superhydrophobics in nature are far more common than you might think. Have you ever seen the incredible
ease with which a dolphin darts through the water? This is because a dolphin’s very thick epidermis is in
fact a hydrophobic surface that repels water. When placed under water a superhydrophobic surface doesn’t
lose its ability to make water run from it and that same ability can be used on the hulls of ships to decrease
drag and the accumulation of biological fouling creating a ship that despite its tremendous mass can
master the water around it.