Copper-coated nanoparticles eliminate nasty odors better than carbon


January 28, 2011

Copper-coated nanoparticles have been shown to be up to twice as effective as activated carbon at neutralizing unpleasant odors (Photo: Greeblie)

Copper-coated nanoparticles have been shown to be up to twice as effective as activated carbon at neutralizing unpleasant odors (Photo: Greeblie)

Nanotechnology has made huge advances possible in a variety of scientific fields, but the average non-scientist may particularly appreciate one of its latest applications – eliminating foul odors. In recent tests conducted by scientists from the University of Florida, copper-coated silica nanoparticles were shown to be up to twice as effective as activated carbon for neutralizing ethyl mercaptan, which is the stinky ingredient in natural gas.

Copper was chosen for its known antibacterial and anti-odor properties. By coating the silica nanoparticles with the metal, its active surface area was maximized – each particle was approximately 1/50,000th the width of a human hair. While it was important to use enough copper to fill all the nanopores on each nanoparticle, it was also found that the introduction of too much copper caused the metal to cluster on the silica surface, which resulted in less odor-elimination.

When exposed to the nanoparticles, the ethyl mercaptan molecules were adsorbed by the copper – this means that they stuck to its surface, as opposed to if they were absorbed, which would mean that they were drawn inside of it. Gas chromatography revealed that the ethyl mercaptan was subsequently catalytically converted into relatively innocuous diethyl disulfide.

While the nanoparticles outperformed activated carbon, even it is far more effective than most room deodorizers, which simply mask odors by outcompeting them with their own scent.

The U Florida researchers believe that the nanoparticles could also be used to remove sulfur contaminants from crude oil, and for fighting harmful bacteria.

The research was recently published in the journal Langmuir.

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

All shoe odors come from the sulfur like smell of the candida fungus waste The number one fungicide is potassium bicarbonate. You can learn more about it at: Sodium bicarbonate is not effective because it can not be absorbed into the cell.


This will be great. I had a terrific experience. I had been to Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia from Singapore in 1991. My shoes were wet as i travelled in rain in Singapore. So I packed the shoes in a polyethylene bag and put it in the hand baggage. On arrival at the Airport in Darwin the police brought a sniff dog to check all baggage (obviously for drugs). The dog stopped at my bag and smelled it. The police asked me to open the bag. I told him there was nothing in my bag. He insisted opening it. The dog smelled my shoe. The shoe being wet was giving bad odour. Of course the story ended there.

As such foul smell of the leather is disliked.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
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