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Silica nanoparticles used to make mosquito-repellant clothing

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June 7, 2012

The NANOMOSKI process utilizes silica nanoparticles to render clothing mosquito-repellant

The NANOMOSKI process utilizes silica nanoparticles to render clothing mosquito-repellant

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For many of us, mosquitoes are an irritating pest that can ruin any number of outdoor activities. For many others, however, they are also spreaders of malaria – a disease which infected approximately 216 million people in 2010, according to an estimate by the World Health Organization. Repeatedly slathering on bug repellant is one way of dealing with the insects, although wearing clothing made from mosquito-repellant fabric sounds a lot more preferable. While existing mozzie-unfriendly garments have some limitations, Portuguese tech company Nanolabel has developed a new treatment process that it claims is far superior to traditional technology.

Known as NANOMOSKI, the process involves impregnating textiles with amorphous silica (silicon dioxide) nanoparticles. Immobilized in the pores of these particles is a “non-toxic active substance” that isn’t too popular with the mosquitoes. In tests performed at Lisbon’s Institute of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, that substance repelled 81 percent of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, while keeping 89 percent of them from feeding. By contrast, textiles treated with microencapsulated DEET (which is definitely not non-toxic) had a repellency index of 40 percent, and a feeding inhibition of 65 percent.

While Nanolabel is keeping the identity of the active substance under wraps, the company claims that it has been in use for over 30 years, and “is proven biocompatible and is classified by EPA with the lowest degree of toxicity (grade IV) in all categories.”

The silicon dioxide is essentially just sand, and is environmentally innocuous. The particles are larger than 100 nanometers, which puts them well above the size of permeability of human skin – or that of other animals that have been tested.

Silica nanoparticles deposited on textile fibers, using the NANOMOSKI process

Silica nanoparticles deposited on textile fibers, using the NANOMOSKI process

In a conventional finishing process which can be conducted at regular fabric-dying facilities, the nanoparticles are reportedly deposited into the material, as opposed to just adhering to the outer surface of its fibers. In lab tests, this allowed the particles to remain in the material for up to 90 washes – although by that point, the repellant content was down to 35 percent. That said, according to the company, a maximum of 40 washes is presently considered "good" for conventional anti-mosquito-treated clothing.

Corporate buyers are currently being sought for the technology.

Source: Nanolabel

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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1 Comment

I am guessing that the mosquitoes are repelled from landing on the fabric, but I have never been bitten through the fabric of my clothes, the mosquitoes invariably land on bare skin and then do their vampiric tasks. It seems to me that unless these fabrics are somehow repelling the bugs with invisible rays or bug repelling smells, that these fabrics are solving a problem that does not exist.

Michaelc
7th June, 2012 @ 07:13 pm PDT
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