The dirt on self-cleaning

on January 13, 2014

Although parents know that there is nothing on this planet dirtier than a kindergartener, many common everyday items are covered with dirt and germs. Some of these items will be very obvious, like toilet seats, but others may surprise you. Common items that you encounter daily such as doorknobs, touch screens, shopping carts, gas pump handles and playground equipment are some of the dirtiest surfaces you will ever confront. Contact with these public surfaces are unavoidable and no one is willing to invest in the human resources and chemical cleaners needed to decontaminate these public surfaces. Cleanliness may be next to godliness but, despite our good intentions, many surfaces remain filthy and are constant sources of contamination.

While some solutions do exist, keeping Junior in a bubble or bathing him in hand sanitizer just isn’t practical for all parents. What we really need is surfaces that could efficiently clean themselves without labour or harsh chemicals. Sounds like something from the next century, right? Well, this this technology already exists and will soon be available on the market.

SunWash Technologies Inc. in London, Ontario has developed self-cleaning surfaces that help break down biological pollutants, oils, natural toxins, pesticides and other organic material when exposed to oxygen and light. These self-cleaning coatings are applied like paint and, when exposed to light, will degrade organic or biological matter on the surface into harmless carbon dioxide and water. These surface coatings last for years and become more effective under stronger lighting conditions.

“We think there’s a huge potential. Self-cleaning surfaces are safe, more environmentally friendly and really solve a huge problem” said Dan Jenken, CEO of SunWash.

A WORLDiscoveries spin-off company, SunWash Technologies aims to be a world leader in self-cleaning polymers. Indeed, the company has already been recognized as winner in this year’s Venture London Awards for new businesses and the TechAlliance Award for Innovation. They have also received significant funding from the Ontario Centres of Excellence, GreenCentre Canada and FedDev Ontario.

“Starting a technology company is a huge amount of work. We are so very grateful for all the recognition and support we have received to date. We would not have been able to offer this fantastic innovation to the public without the tremendous advice and financial assistance received,” said SunWash Co-founder Patrick Therrien.

The SunWash coating material is being tested in numerous outdoor and indoor applications including food-processing plants throughout Southwestern Ontario. Luckily, we will not have to wait long as their first products, self-cleaning polyurethane coatings, will be released in early 2014. Until then, we will have to keep Junior germ-free through other means. But hey, it’s good for their immune systems, right?

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