World Wide Water: March 2011
Professor Eugene Cloete has big plans for his small, novel tea bag-like filter that can purify contaminated water and has drawn global acclaim. “We’re making filters in a variety of different sizes, starting with one-litre, and you may end up being able to filter thousands of litres, based on exactly the same technology,” Cloete, the dean of the Faculty of Science at Stellenbosch University, explains. “This is what’s driving me. I’ve got many ideas.”
Last year, Cloete received worldwide interest from philanthropists, relief organisations and governments for his innovation, which fits into the neck of a water bottle, and can purify one litre of contaminated water while the user drinks from it.
And interest in the device, likely to cost a few cents, has surged. The filter is coated with a thin film of biocides contained within tiny fibres, and kills all disease-causing microbes. Its active carbon granules remove dangerous chemicals.
“We’re expanding our invention. We started with the tea bag idea, and thought it was great, but we’re finding the application suddenly in many areas where we’re not only treating one, single litre of water, but 25 litres at a time. It’s common for people to fetch much water in a big container in rural areas.
“Eskom is very interested and we want to upscale to develop filters for much larger-scale water treatment. “SAB wants to talk to us about a joint project to develop this technology for their final filtration process.”
This week Cloete announced that the university had signed a licensing agreement with a company called Aquacure, to produce, manufacture and market the filters. Cloete had hoped to get the product to supermarket shelves by now, but commercialisation of the product has meant this is only likely to happen late this year.
“Only then could we start negotiations with the company that manufactures the nano-fibre equipment, which is based in the Czech Republic. They build the machines that do the electrospinning. “We can make it in the lab, but we can’t produce the nanofibres commercially. “Now we’re at the point where we probably will first get a machine that produces semi-commercial batches of the product, like a pilot plant, and will be used to upscale the technology. “We want to start production, at least in Africa.”
The filter will provide easy access to clean drinking water and will help save lives in vulnerable communities living near polluted water sources, or in flood-stricken areas.
As part of Water Week this week, Cloete launched the Stellenbosch University Water Institute, which hopes to tackle water-related issues in South Africa. “The big issue is getting safe water to people. There are 16 000 to 18 000 people who die in South Africa every year from diarrhoea, mostly children. “People don’t have access to sanitation,” Cloete says.
This week, a report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research warned that deteriorating water quality could see freshwater resources be depleted by 2030 – sooner if South Africa experienced prolonged droughts. These problems would be exacerbated by more frequent incidents of water pollution and increased costs of water treatment, it found. “We’re getting interest from specific targeted areas like Zanzibar, where cholera is now endemic, as well as enquiries from China and India,” Cloete says.


Infection Control: March 2011
Sharklet Technologies announces that it has been awarded a $1.2 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) / National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to continue its development of a urinary Foley catheter with the Sharklet™ micro-pattern that inhibits bacterial growth on the surface of the catheter. The Sharklet pattern is being applied to the surface of a Foley catheter with the intent to reduce catheter-associated urinary tract infections.
Building on the successful outcome from Phase I SBIR research that validated the effectiveness of the Sharklet pattern for inhibiting bacterial biofilm development, Sharklet Technologies will draw from Phase II funds to further evaluate several uropathogenic bacterial species, assess the pattern's ability to inhibit bacterial migration, and produce Sharklet-patterned catheters that meet functional, quality and biocompatibility requirements. As part of the research project, the company expects to conduct a small human clinical trial to guage in vivo efficacy. Concurrent to its research, the company will submit a 510K application to the FDA.
Sharklet Technologies' director of research Dr. Shravanthi Reddy, who led Phase I research, will serve as the principal investigator for the Phase II project. "We are pleased to receive this significant award as it validates our use of a novel topography-based, non-chemical approach to inhibit bacterial biofilm development," says Reddy. "Through our continued development of a Sharklet-patterned Foley catheter our goal remains constant - to advance catheter technology by reducing catheter-associated urinary tract infections, or CAUTI, which will improve patient outcomes and improve healthcare financials."
CAUTIs account for about 40 percent of the two million annually occurring hospital-acquired infections. About 95 percent of urinary tract infections are associated with urinary catheters. These infections account for an estimated $565 million annually in additional costs to patients and the healthcare system. About 8,000 patients die per year from CAUTI. Additionally, in 2008, Medicare announced that it will no longer pay for treatment of avoidable hospital-acquired infections due to urinary catheters effectively making hospitals economically responsible for reducing the occurrence of these infections.
Today's urinary catheter technology suffers from key drawbacks, most notably that they frequently cause infection due to bacteria colonizing the surface of the catheter. Current antimicrobial catheters rely on biocides to coat the catheter prior to insertion or antimicrobial agents manufactured directly into the surface of the catheter. These chemically-coated catheters elute their antimicrobial agents into urine, which can lead to the emergence and selection of antimicrobial-resistant strains of bacteria. The Sharklet micro-pattern is unique in that it is a surface texture -- not chemical elution -- that inhibits bacterial colonization. This non-toxic approach reduces the risk of development of multi-drug resistant bacteria species.
"Sharklet represents a breakthrough in bacterial control and the culmination of years of work in determining how surface topography can impact microorganism growth," says Mark Spiecker, chief executive officer of Sharklet Technologies. "We are grateful for this award as it underscores the importance of introducing new non-kill technologies to advance our standards for healthcare especially as it pertains to infection prevention."


Regulatory News: March 2011
The European Commission is asking the Czech Republic to update its chemicals legislation and authorise the use of two biocides.
 Under European legislation, the rodenticide Flocoumafen and the wood preservative Tolylfluanide should be included on Member States' lists of authorised substances. Despite an earlier warning from the Commission, the Czech Republic has not yet added these to its list of active substances which can be used in biocidal products, so on the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, a reasoned opinion is being sent. In case the Czech Republic doesn't comply with its legal obligation within two months, the Commission may refer this Member State to the Court of Justice and may already ask the Court to impose financial sanctions at this stage, without having to return to the Court for a second ruling.
Directive 2009/150/EC requires Member States to include the biocide flocoumafen as an active substance permitted for rodenticides in their national legislation by 30 September 2010, and Directive 2009/151/EC requires Member States to include the biocide tolylfluanide as an active substance permitted for wood preservatives in their national legislation by the same date. The Czech Republic did not notify the Commission of the relevant implementing legislation for either substance before that deadline, so a reasoned opinion is being sent.
The EU has a strict framework of rules to govern the placing on the market of biocidal products. The two products in question are considered safe, as they have passed the Commission's tests. Czech consumers are therefore being penalised by the delay in national authorisation.


Coatings World: March 2011
International Paint is set to initiate product price rises in response to spiralling global raw material costs. “During 2010 the cost of raw materials critical to the manufacture of both our marine and protective coatings product ranges increased significantly,” said Paul Westcott, marine and protective coatings commercial director. “We have attempted to minimize the impact on our customers for as long as possible by leveraging our buying power and driving internal cost saving measures. Unfortunately the increase in costs shows no sign of abatement and therefore regrettably we now have little choice but to initiate a program of product price rises.”
A number of raw materials key to the manufacture of both marine and protective coatings products have been affected by the inflationary drivers including, epoxy resins, titanium dioxide, solvents, copper and other metals.


European Cleaning News: March 2011
AkzoNobel Surface Chemistry LLC will increase the prices for products that are based on fat-based oils, alcohols, and acrylates. This includes the following products: Armeen®, Arquad®, Ethomeen®, and Alcosperse®. Prices will increase up to 12 percent. The increases are the result of tightness and increased costs in the raw material market.