Nanodiamond research could bring energy savings

Haitao Ye

12 July 2012

Nanodiamonds, pieces of carbon less than ten-thousandths the diameter of a human hair, have been found to help loosen crystallized fat from surfaces, in a collaborative project between researchers at Aston University and the University of Warwick.

With modern biological washing powders, some fats and dirt cannot be removed at the lower temperatures many prefer to use for their weekly wash. The research has discovered that nanodiamond additives made the detergent more effective at removing dirt and grease, at or below room temperature.

These new findings tackle a problem that forces consumers to wash some of their laundry at between 60 and 90 degrees centigrade more than 80 times a year. 

A desire to reduce the significant energy burden of regular high temperature washes, and understand the behaviour of these new materials, brought Aston University scientists and colleagues at the University of Warwick together to work and produce a paper on“Nanodiamond Additives for Cold Water Cleaning”. It was funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and washing powder manufacturer Procter and Gamble PLC.

Aston Nanoscience Group is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities to functionalise the nanodiamond particles to tailor their surface chemistry properties for this particular application, which is key to this project.  

Dr Haitao Ye, Senior Lecturer in Nanotechnology Science at Aston University, said: “Cleaning clothes directly, or indirectly, affects everyone on the planet, making it hugely important in terms of energy and resource usage. Traditional methods of washing rely on high temperature, mechanical action and extended washing times. We hope that this innovation will have the potential to bring huge savings of energy used to heat water in an essential, everyday domestic wash.”

The research is published in the American Chemical Society- Applied Materials & Interfaces journal, and has attracted considerable worldwide media interest.

For further information, contact Dr Haitao Ye, School of Engineering & Applied Science on 0121 204 3526 or h.ye@aston.ac.uk 

For further media information contact Kreesha Pattani, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4552 or k.pattani1@aston.ac.uk