Nano Textile says it can make any fabric antibacterial

Company says its technology permanently prevents the growth of bacteria on natural and synthetic fibers, preventing infections

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative photo of an operating room. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of an operating room. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Nano Textile has developed a technology that can transform any fabric into one that kills bacteria, the Ramat Gan, Israel-based company said in a statement.

The company said the cost-effective technology permanently prevents the growth of bacteria on both natural and synthetic fibers, can prevent the spread of hospital-acquired infections and can reduce cross contamination between patients and medical staff, helping reduce secondary infections.

Any readymade textile is transformed into an antibacterial one by embedding zinc-oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles onto the fabric, the company said. ZnO is known for its antibacterial properties and has been approved by the FDA as safe. Nanoparticles of ZnO eradicate even antibiotic resistant bacteria such as Methicilin-resistant Staphylocossus aureus (MRSA), Nano Textile said.

Bacterial infections acquired during hospitalization are a major cause of illness and death. The World Health Organization has estimated that over 500 million people worldwide are infected during hospitalization, a high percentage of which are caused by highly resistant bacteria, such as MRSA. These infections not only take a toll of approximately 14 million lives worldwide per year, but also pose a significant financial burden by increasing hospitalization by eight days on average per affected patient. Hospital related costs in Europe alone are estimated at $12 billion per year, data provided by the company shows.

Nano Textile's antibacterial machine for textiles (Courtesy)
Nano Textile’s antibacterial machine for textiles (Courtesy)

The new technology, which has been patented in the US and Israel and is awaiting approval in Europe and Asia, was developed by Prof. Aharon Gedanken from the Department of Chemistry at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, with funding of €12 million from one of the European Union’s research programs.

The technology is based on the use of sonochemistry, a method to coat surfaces with nanoparticles. ZnO nanoparticles are formed in the solution via a sonochemical process and subsequently put on the textile’s surface. During the sonochemical process, molecules undergo a chemical reaction due to the application of powerful ultrasound radiation. Through the process the newly formed ZnO nano particles are thrown at the surface of the textiles at such a high speeds that they strongly adhere to the surfaces.

The fabrics that are treated don’t change in appearance since ZnO is colorless. In addition, the fabrics can withstand up to 65 wash cycles at 92°C and up to 100 wash cycles at 75°C, far beyond the standard requirements of medical facilities, without losing their antibacterial properties.

The process and these findings have been described in an article published by Gedanken’s lab, in the scientific journal Cellulose.

“In a hospital setting, for example, our technology can be used for inserting anti-bacterial characteristics to staff uniforms, patients’ pajamas, linen, blankets and curtains, in order to significantly reduce morbidity and mortality and in parallel reduce hospitalization costs,” Gedanken, who set up the company in 2014, said in the statement.

Nano Textile has developed an antibacterial textile (Courtesy)
Nano Textile has developed an antibacterial textile (Courtesy)

Nano Textile is now in the process of raising capital to begin operations, Lilac Mandeles, its president said. The potential for the antibacterial fabric technology reaches far beyond medical applications and is relevant to a variety of industries including airplanes, trains and luxury cars, babywear, sports clothing and undergarments and restaurants and hotels, she said.

Nano Textile won the second place at last month’s China Medical Tech Competition at the Tel Aviv stock Exchange.

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