Furniture, footwear, appliances and sporting goods are some of the applications a Spanish supplier of engineered clay-based additives hopes to penetrate in the U.S. now that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has registered it for use there. Called BactiBlock, these antimicrobial additives help suppress the growth of algae, mold, mildew, fungi, and bacteria.
NanoBioMatters (Valencia, Spain) was founded in 2005 but completed its first commercial year in 2010, and also was a first-time exhibitor at the triennial K show in Düsseldorf, Germany that year. In our interview with NanoBioMatters' officials at that event, they explained that some grades of their nanoclay additives that don't just block gases but also can actively scavenge oxygen, for one. This material, dubbed O2Block, was introduced during the K show. Other products include the BactiBlock additives or ones that work as antioxidants. Critical to the company's success is its ability to add functionality to the clays it uses. The company actually introduced its anti-microbial nanoclay additive at the NPE tradeshow in June 2009 but now, with EPA registration, can begin commercials sales in the U.S.
"The recent EPA registration opens the door for commercial entry of these unique antimicrobial preservatives into the U.S.," said Ole Faarbaek, vice president of NanoBioMatters North America, which operates out of Boston. BactiBlock antimicrobial preservatives are already produced at commercial scale, having been used in Europe since 2010. "Several major U.S. brand owners in key markets have finalized testing and commercial use in the U.S. is expected later this year," added Faarbaek. In May 2011 in Boston, at the Antec plastics conference, NBM presented a paper on "Novel Nanocomposites of Moisture-Sensitive Polymers and Biopolymers with Enhanced Performance for Flexible Packaging Applications"
BactiBlock relies on purified and modified phyllosilicate clay as a performance-enhancing carrier of a silver antimicrobial agent. The silver is linked to the clay surface; during processing a uniform dispersion of the clay is achieved. The silver linked to the clay platelets is released to the surface of the protected plastic at a controlled rate to help achieve a uniform and long-term antimicrobial effect. That long-term effect explains why the applications cited are mostly durable goods.
The BactiBlock additives are compatible for use with polyolefins, engineering plastics, powder coatings, liquid coatings, and thermoset plastics. The additive can be delivered as a micronized powder, gel concentrate, or a masterbatch. Final concentration of the total additive package is highly dependent on product design and target properties with typical concentration ranging from 0.5 to 2%.