Today’s Solutions: May 23, 2022

While the use of disinfectants has already been a regular thing for many people when cleaning their homes, the pandemic has called for unprecedented sanitization of our close surroundings. 

While good at their job, some disinfectants, such as chlorine-based ones, are actually environmentally harmful. In a bid to come up with a better, more sustainable alternative, a team of scientists has developed an eco-friendly disinfectant by using wood waste.

The vast majority of sustainable disinfectants on the market rely on a compound called phenol, which can be costly and energy-intensive to make. Phenolic structures, however, are abundant in wood. That’s why a team of environmental engineers from Fudan University in Shanghai has turned to sawdust with the hope to provide a more affordable and greener source of antimicrobial compounds.

For their study, the team used a pressure cooker to brew a mixture of water and sawdust for one hour. After filtering the sawdust, the scientists then tested the sawdust infusion for its antimicrobial abilities. Depending on the concentration, the disinfectant was able to kill off 99 percent of the microbes Staphylococcus epidermidis and E. coli, both of which can be harmful to humans.

The sustainable disinfectant was similarly successful at inactivating anthrax and influenza viruses, as well as the spores of a dormant type of bacteria, called Bacillus subtilis, that can be difficult to kill.

Study source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – Biosafety of human environments can be supported by effective use of renewable biomass

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