Nuclear Diamond Batteries could disrupt Energy/ Energy Storage as we know it … “Imagine a World where you wouldn’t need to charge your battery for …. Decades!”

Illustration of the NDB Battery in a Most Recognizable ‘18650’ Format

They will blow any energy density comparison out of the water, lasting anywhere from a decade to 28,000 years without ever needing a charge.”

“They will offer higher power density than lithium-ion. They will be nigh-on indestructible and totally safe in an electric car crash.”

And in some applications, like electric cars, they stand to be considerably cheaper than current lithium-ion packs despite their huge advantages.

In the words of Dr. John Shawe-Taylor, UNESCO Chair and University College London Professor: “NDB has the potential to solve the major global issue of carbon emissions in one stroke without the expensive infrastructure projects, energy transportation costs, or negative environmental impacts associated with alternate solutions such as carbon capture at fossil fuel power stations, hydroelectric plants, turbines, or nuclear power stations.


So What is NDB’s Story and How Do They Work?

The heart of each cell is a small piece of recycled nuclear waste. NDB (nuclear diamond battery) uses graphite nuclear reactor parts that have absorbed radiation from nuclear fuel rods and have themselves become radioactive.

Untreated, it’s high-grade nuclear waste: dangerous, difficult and expensive to store, with a very long half-life.

This graphite is rich in the carbon-14 radioisotope, which undergoes beta decay into nitrogen, releasing an anti-neutrino and a beta decay electron in the process. NDB takes this graphite, purifies it and uses it to create tiny carbon-14 diamonds.


The diamond structure acts as a semiconductor and heat sink, collecting the charge and transporting it out. Completely encasing the radioactive carbon-14 diamond is a layer of cheap, non-radioactive, lab-created carbon-12 diamond, which contains the energetic particles, prevents radiation leaks and acts as a super-hard protective and tamper-proof layer.

To create a battery cell, several layers of this nano-diamond material are stacked up and stored with a tiny integrated circuit board and a small supercapacitor to collect, store and instantly distribute the charge. NDB says it’ll conform to any shape or standard, including AA, AAA, 18650, 2170 or all manner of custom sizes.

And so what you get is a tiny miniature power generator in the shape of a battery that never needs charging – and that NDB says will be cost-competitive with, and sometimes significantly less expensive than – current lithium batteries. That equation is helped along by the fact that some of the suppliers of the original nuclear waste will pay NDB to take it off their hands. 


Shown here as a small, circuit board mounted design, the nano diamond battery has the potential to totally upend the energy equation since it never needs charging and lasts many, many years

Radiation levels from a cell, NDB tells us, will be less than the radiation levels produced by the human body itself, making it totally safe for use in a variety of applications. At the small scale, these could include things like pacemaker batteries and other electronic implants, where their long lifespan will save the wearer from replacement surgeries. They could also be placed directly onto circuit boards, delivering power for the lifespan of a device.

In a consumer electronics application, NDB’s Neel Naicker gives us an example of just how different these devices would be: “Think of it in an iPhone. With the same size battery, it would charge your battery from zero to full, five times an hour. Imagine that.

Imagine a world where you wouldn’t have to charge your battery at all for the day. Now imagine for the week, for the month… How about for decades? That’s what we’re able to do with this technology.”

And it can scale up to electric vehicle sizes and beyond, offering superb power density in a battery pack that is projected to last as long as 90 years in that application – something that could be pulled out of your old car and put into a new one. If part of a cell fails, the active nano diamond part can be recycled into another cell, and once they reach the end of their lifespan – which could be up to 28,000 years for a low-powered sensor that might, for example, be used on a satellite – they leave nothing but “harmless byproducts.”

In the words of Dr. John Shawe-Taylor, UNESCO Chair and University College London Professor: “NDB has the potential to solve the major global issue of carbon emissions in one stroke without the expensive infrastructure projects, energy transportation costs, or negative environmental impacts associated with alternate solutions such as carbon capture at fossil fuel power stations, hydroelectric plants, turbines, or nuclear power stations.

Their technology’s ability to deliver energy over very long periods of time without the need for recharging, refueling, or servicing puts them in an ideal position to tackle the world’s energy requirements through a distributed solution with close to zero environmental impact and energy transportation costs.”

Indeed, the NDB battery offers an outstanding 24-hour energy proposition for off-grid living, and the NDB team is adamant that it wishes to devote a percentage of its time to providing it to needy remote communities as a charity service with the support of some of the company’s business customers.

Should the company chew right through the world’s full supply of carbon-14 nuclear waste – a prospect that would take some extremely serious volume – NDB says it can create its own carbon-14 raw material simply and cost-effectively.

The company has completed a proof of concept, and is ready to begin building its commercial prototype once its labs reopen after COVID shutdown. A low-powered commercial version is expected to hit the market in less than two years, and the high powered version is projected for five years’ time. NDB says it’s well ahead of its competition with patents pending on its technology and manufacturing processes. 

Should this pan out as promised, it’s hard to see how this won’t be a revolutionary power source. Such a long-life battery will fundamentally challenge the disposable ethos of many modern technologies, or lead to battery packs that consumers carry with them from phone to phone, car to car, laptop to laptop across decades. NDB-equipped homes can be grid-connected or not. Each battery is its own near-inexhaustible green energy source, quietly turning nuclear waste into useful energy. 

Sounds like remarkable news to us!

We spoke with several members of the NDB executive team. Check out the full edited transcript of that interview for more information, or watch the cartoon video below.

Nano Diamond Battery Explainer Video – NDB

Source: NDB

Want to Know More? Listen to Professor Simon Holland Explain Pros and Cons

Fuel cells for hydrogen vehicles are lasting longer and longer and … Promising Research from the University of Copenhagen

The new electrocatalyst for hydrogen fuel cells consists of a thin platinum-cobalt alloy network and, unlike the catalysts commonly used today, does not require a carbon carrier. Credit: Gustav Sievers

Roughly 1 billion cars and trucks zoom about the world’s roadways. Only a few run on hydrogen.

This could change after a breakthrough achieved by researchers at the University of Copenhagen.

The breakthrough? A new catalyst that can be used to produce cheaper and far more sustainable hydrogen powered vehicles.

Hydrogen vehicles are a rare sight. This is partly because they rely on a large amount of platinum to serve as a catalyst in their fuel cells—about 50 grams. Typically, vehicles only need about five grams of this rare and precious material. Indeed, only 100 tons of platinum are mined annually, in South Africa.

Now, researchers at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Chemistry have developed a catalyst that doesn’t require such a large quantity of platinum.

“We have developed a catalyst which, in the laboratory, only needs a fraction of the amount of platinum that current  fuel cells for cars do. We are approaching the same amount of platinum as needed for a conventional .

At the same time, the new catalyst is much more stable than the catalysts deployed in today’s hydrogen powered vehicles,” explains Professor Matthias Arenz from the Department of Chemistry.

A paradigm shift for hydrogen vehicles

Sustainable technologies are often challenged by the limited availability of the rare materials that make them possible, which in turn, limits scalability.

Due to this current limitation, it is impossible to simply replace the world’s vehicles with hydrogen models overnight. As such, the new technology a game-changer.

“The new catalyst can make it possible to roll out hydrogen vehicles on a vastly greater scale than could have ever been achieved in the past,” states Professor Jan Rossmeisl, center leader of the Center for High Entropy Alloy Catalysis at UCPH’s Department of Chemistry.

The new catalyst improves fuel cells significantly, by making it possible to produce more horsepower per gram of platinum. This in turn, makes the production of hydrogen  vehicles more sustainable.

More durable, less platinum

Because only the surface of a catalyst is active, as many platinum atoms as possible are needed to coat it. A catalyst must also be durable. Herein lies the conflict.

To gain as much surface area as possible, today’s catalysts are based on -nano-particles which are coated over carbon. Unfortunately, carbon makes catalysts unstable. The new catalyst is distinguished by being carbon-free.

Instead of nano-particles, the researchers have developed a network of nanowires characterized an abundance of surface area and high durability.

“With this breakthrough, the notion of hydrogen vehicles becoming commonplace has become more realistic. It allows them to become cheaper, more sustainable and more durable,” says Jan Rossmeisl.

Dialogue with the automotive industry

The next step for the researchers is to scale up their results so that the technology can be implemented in hydrogen vehicles.

“We are in talks with the  about how this breakthrough can be rolled out in practice. So, things look quite promising,” says Professor Matthias Arenz.

The research results have just been published in Nature Materials, one of the leading scientific journals for materials research. It is the first article in which every researcher at the basic research center, “Center for High Entropy Alloy Catalysis (CHEAC)”, has collaborated.

The center is a so-called Center of Excellence, supported by the Danish National Research Foundation.

“At the center, we develop new materials to create sustainable chemicals and fuels that help society make the chemical industry greener. That it is now possible to scale up the production of hydrogen vehicles, and in a sustainable way, is a major step forward,” says center leader Jan Rossmeisl.

Hyperion’s hydrogen-powered supercar can drive 1,000 miles on a single tank And … Go ‘0’ to 60 in 2+ seconds

The Hyperion XP-1

Hyperion, a California-based company, has unveiled a hydrogen-powered supercar the company hopes will change the way people view hydrogen fuel cell technology. 

The Hyperion XP-1 will be able to drive for up to 1,000 miles on one tank of compressed hydrogen gas and its electric motors will generate more than 1,000 horsepower, according to the company. The all-wheel-drive car can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in a little over two seconds, the company said.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars are electric cars that use hydrogen to generate power inside the car rather than using batteries to store energy. The XP-1 doesn’t combust hydrogen but uses it in fuel cells that combine hydrogen with oxygen from the air in a process that creates water, the vehicle’s only emission, and a stream of electricity to power the car.

The Hyperion XP-1's main purpose is to generate interest in hydrogen power, the company's CEO said.

The Hyperion XP-1’s main purpose is to generate interest in hydrogen power, the company’s CEO said.

The XP-1 has much longer range than a battery-powered electric car because compressed hydrogen has much more power per liter than a battery, Hyperion CEO Angelo Kafantaris explained.

Also, because hydrogen gas is very light, the overall vehicle weighs much less than one packed with heavy batteries. That, in turn, makes the car more energy efficient so that it can go farther and faster.

Many car companies, including HondaToyota, Hyundai and General Motors, have produced hydrogen fuel vehicles for research purposes or for sale in small numbers. 

But the technology is starting to gain more support. Start up truck maker, Nikola, for example, plans to sell hydrogen-powered semis and pickup trucks. Other companies haven’t yet created an exciting car that will capture the public’s attention, though, said Kafantaris.

The biggest challenge facing hydrogen-powered cars has been fueling them. Compared to gasoline or electricity, there’s little hydrogen infrastructure in America. Public charging stations for electric cars are much more plentiful than hydrogen filling stations A Department of Energy map of publicly accessible hydrogen filling stations shows clusters of dots around major California cities and no dots at all throughout nearly all the rest of the country.

Hydrogen is extremely light which helps the Hyperion XP-1's performance.

Hydrogen is extremely light which helps the Hyperion XP-1’s performance.

Hydrogen is the first and simplest element on the periodic table. Colorless and odorless, it has only a single proton at its center with one electron around it. 

While it is the most plentiful element in the universe, hydrogen doesn’t naturally exist by itself. Before it can be used as a fuel, hydrogen has to be broken out of molecules of water, natural gas or other substances. That’s usually done by using electricity to split those larger molecules apart. Energy is then released inside the car when the hydrogen combines again with oxygen. 

The main advantage of hydrogen is that pumping a tank full of hydrogen takes much less time than charging a battery. It only takes three to five minutes to fill the tank on the XP-1 for a 1,000 mile trip, for instance.

Hydrogen gas also isn’t subject to wear and degradation as batteries are, especially when fast-charged, said Kafantaris. The XP-1 does have a battery that acts as a buffer to store electricity generated by the fuel cell, but it’s much smaller than the battery packs used in electric cars.

The real purpose of the Hyperion XP-1 is to generate interest in hydrogen fuel, the company said.

Hyperion already has several operational prototype cars, said Kafantaris. The first production cars are expected to be delivered to customers by the end of next year. Kafantaris did not detail pricing for the car, but indicated that prices will vary depending on the level of performance.

The highest-performing versions, ones capable of producing 1,000 horsepower, could cost in the millions. The company is capping production at 300 examples.

The company is hoping to manufacture the XP-1 somewhere in the Midwest, Kafantaris said. Following the XP-1, the company hopes to make more practical hydrogen-fueled cars for a broader range of customers.

The company also hopes to popularize the idea of hydrogen as an energy medium for vehicles, as well as for other uses, he said. Hyperion has been working with NASA to commercialize various hydrogen technologies that the space agency currently uses and to develop new uses, he said. 

The space agency confirmed to CNN Business that Hyperion has agreements to license a number of NASA technologies.

“Part of what we’re aiming to do is to give a sense of pride for what America has done in the past, through NASA technology, and kind of brings people together around something that everybody can look at and say ‘That’s American, I’m proud of that,” Kafantaris said.

Phoenix Arizona’s ‘Lectric eBikes’ are taking Industry by Storm – 2 Young Entrepreneurs Capture Market Interest with ‘Fun-to-Ride’ and Affordable eBikes

Lectric Bikes Phx ]493a6109-ceee-4439-8335-341d38830d81-RS_07079

         Founders of Lectric eBikes (based in Phoenix AZ) Robby Deziel  and Levi Conlow

All Levi Conlow’s dad wanted was an electric bike that didn’t cause sticker shock.

So when he approached his son and his son’s best friend Robby Deziel with the proposal that they put their heads together to make obtaining his e-bike dream come true, the new college graduates started thinking.

“My dad was just entering that phase of his life when he wanted an e-bike for himself and my mom. Their friends had e-bikes,” Conlow said. “He was frustrated. He couldn’t find one for less than $2,000 or $3,000.”

This is when the professional exploration path of Conlow — equipped with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business entrepreneurship and leadership from Grand Canyon University — and Deziel — who has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota — merged with dad’s personal quest.

“Our parents and their friends were said they’d buy one if we figured it out,” Conlow said. “The dream of being able to work for ourselves was always cool and we just went for it.”

Deziel added, “We put our heads together to make them more accessible for everyone without sacrificing quality.”

That union resulted in Lectric eBikes, Conlow and Deziel’s electric bike company that has become a monster in the industry just over a year after launching in Phoenix in 2019. To date, more than 15,000 of their bikes have sold. In June, the company sold $3.5 million worth of bikes alone, Conlow said. 

This success rides on their two models, the original XP and the customer demand-inspired XP Step-Thru, each of which bears a more wallet-friendly price tag of $899.

The more they researched and got into the nitty gritty, they saw no reason for consumers to pay into the four digits.

“Other companies just wanted a higher profit margin. We’re really committed to a community of riders,” Conlow said.

Lectric is part of a global e-bike market that was valued at $23 billion in 2019, according to an Analytical Research Cognizance report. It’s also projected to be worth $46 billion by 2026, according to Fortune Business Insights.

This commitment has created a thriving business model that has relied on word-of-mouth. The idea: Deliver a product that generates strong support from customers, who will become natural advocates when they are stopped on the street by curious bystanders.

“We make it so customers absolutely love and support us. It shows the power of the customer advocate and what wonders they can do,” Conlow said.

Beverly Lambert has been one of those advocates from the start. She and her husband own two XP’s and have a Step-Thru on order.

Her husband used to own a bicycle store and they had owned every kind of bike on Earth. The last thing she wanted was another new-fangled version. But her husband bought them XP’s anyway.

Founders of Lectric E-Bikes Robby Deziel and Levi Conlow credit their success to influencers and reviews from YouTubers.

She tried to return hers but was convinced to try it just once.

“I was like, whoa, this is really easy to ride,” said Lambert, who was impressed at its performance up a gravel hill. “I thought, ‘What just happened?’”

Today, Lambert rides it every chance she gets. She’s currently on a camping trip, where she and her husband use it to ride around the campsite, hiking trails and to run quick errands. She takes it on bike trails and the reserve area near her Norco, California, home.

Lambert has helped sell many Lectric bikes to friends and complete strangers who became friends after spotting her on the road and asking her about her e-bike.

Separating from the pack

Conlow and Deziel have been pals since the sixth grade in their hometown of Lakeville, Minnesota. College geographically separated them but they kept in touch and hoped to get into some kind of business together after they graduated.

They did. But for a while, it seemed their entrepreneurial dream would be just that.

At first, Conlow and Deziel, who moved to the Valley, designed several renditions and got fine tuning feedback from their parents.

Originally, they envisioned a sleek, high-tech version aimed at a young audience. They designed the bikes, sourced the manufacturing and were poised to dazzle at tradeshows.

But what they found was that their bike wasn’t practical for the audience that really wanted it. Among the complaints: people couldn’t fit on it; they wanted a more comfortable experience; and its traditional bicycle look meant it needed to be hauled on a car rack with other accessories, which quickly negated the bike’s low price.

“We could not sell those bikes to save our lives,” Deziel recalled. “With all of those lessons in mind, we went back to the drawing board.”

They emerged with what would be their flagship model, the XP. This version has smaller diameter wheels and is lower to the ground, allowing riders of various heights to easily get on and off. The handlebars and seats are adjustable and, because it’s a folding fat tire bike, the increased air volume allows for a more comfortable ride and no rack is needed.

Founders of Lectric E-Bikes Robby Deziel and Levi Conlow credit their success to influencers and reviews from YouTubers.

It fits neatly into the trunk of Deziel’s Honda Civic. It can do mild off-roading onto gravel and hiking trails.

The bike also is assembled when shipped. All customers need to do is pump up the tires and make seat and handlebar adjustments and they’re good to go.

All of these, Deziel said, would be key factors that separate them from the pack.

“With some, you need to put the wheels and handlebars on and build the seat. One company asks you to build the brakes,” Deziel said. “The way we see it, we are the bike people. Not all of our customers are mechanics.”

A sudden surge in orders

Early on, no one was biting. Their parents were the only customers. Deziel was evaluating his bank account and figuring out how many days he could afford to live here before having to move back home.

“We had no inventory. No money. We were in debt to my dad,” Conlow said.

They took a gamble with the little money they did have, made eight bikes and sent those to influencers. With no funds to partner with them, the guys crossed their fingers that at least a couple of the influencers would post positively about their bike.

“We were on pins and needles,” Conlow said.

Soon, one influencer reached out and said he liked the bike would post a review. Still, they were skeptical. They did not set up a bank account and decided to put up a website at the last minute.

“No way people are going to buy a bike on the first day,” Conlow said of their thinking at the time. “We planned to make an account later.”

The first day the influencer’s video posted, $30,000 in Lectric bikes were sold. Over the next 24 hours, another $30,000 in sales, Conlow said.

“We knew we had other videos scheduled to come out after that first day,” Deziel said. “I thought, ‘I can’t believe this, this is crazy… oh man, it’s about to get even crazier.’”

By the time the company was 10 days old, a second influencer video had posted, generating $120,000 a day in sales.

Needless to say, that company bank account was set up real quick.

At the 21-day mark, Lectric sold $1 million in pre-orders. For the first few months, Conlow and Deziel worked out of a Phoenix garage doing $1 million a month. They worked 18-hour days and personally answered emails and calls.

“We were simply overwhelmed. We didn’t really have time to appreciate it because we were consumed by it. We were just trying to hold on,” Conlow said. “But after having nothing, we were excited to wake up and get to work and answer those calls and e-mails.”

Since then, they’ve added to their staff and moved out of the garage into a 13,000-square foot headquarters and showroom.

Most of Lectric’s client base is between the ages of 45-80, who haven’t been on a bike in a while or have mobility issues that prevent them from riding a traditional bike, Deziel said. However, they are all outdoorsy and enjoy time in nature.

Many clients, like the Lamberts, use their bikes around campsites, explore trails while camping or to run errands into town without having to unhook their vehicle. This led Lectric’s involvement with Homes on Wheels Alliance, a non-profit that helps people struggling with homelessness through converting vans into livable spaces and assisting them with managing their finances.

So far, Lectric has sponsored two build outs and plan to do more.

“We’re extremely excited and grateful that we are able to be part of it. Just knowing the impact is very important to us,” Conlow said.

Each bike comes with a one-year warranty, one of the amenities that Deziel knew needed to be worked out as the company saw its profile rapidly rise.

“We feel a great sense of responsibility as to what we are doing with our customers. We needed to get all of this in place so people can have a positive experience,” he said.

Employee Sam Newman, left, and Robby Deziel work on a bike that needs repairs. Deziel founded the Lectric E-Bikes company with childhood friend Levi Conlow.

The Step-Thru model was a response to customers asking for an even easier bike to get on and off of. The frame allows greater ease to do that.

The first day the company announced its release, it sold $300,000 in pre-orders, Conlow said. He and Deziel had to answer calls and e-mails just to handle the customer traffic. It was then when Conlow took a call from a woman named Sue who had a leg condition that prevented her from getting on to the XP. She was excited because with the Step-Thru, she could ride with her husband.

“She was brought to tears telling me about the impact the bike would have and how it’s going to change her life,” Conlow said. “It reaffirmed why we do what we do and why we design what we do. We don’t want to leave anyone out and get as many people riding as possible. It’s a very cool thing to be part of.”

What: Lectric eBikes

Where: 2010 W. Parkside Lane, Phoenix

Employees: 14

Factoid: The global e-bike market was valued at $23 billion in 2019, according to an Analytical Research Cognizance report.

Details: 602-715-0907,

NanoCommerce Inks Joint Venture with Pulsar UAV to Develop and Commercialize On-Board Hydrogen Powered Drone

Drone Maylasian thumbnail_68f24af0cb308e5e8bc43fdd50177c98

NanoCommerce Sdn Bhd (NCSB), a subsidiary of NanoMalaysia Bhd, signed a joint venture with Pulsar UAV Sdn Bhd (PUSB) to commercialize an increased range hydrogen-powered drone known as the High Endurance Fuel Cell Powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (On-board H2 Generation).

The partnership will give NanoCommerce a 20 per cent stake in Pulsar UAV, a Malaysian company that builds its unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones from scratch.

Hydrogen produced within the drone allows for it to fly for a longer time due to the core technology, which is hydrogen fuel cell, known for better endurance. The differentiating factor here is that the drone is equipped with a nanotechnology enhanced hydrogen reactor that produces hydrogen on-demand to the fuel cells. This generates electricity to power the rotors for flight without the need for heavy compressed gas storage thereby, improving the power-to-weight ratio.

According to Izmir Yamin, Chief Executive Officer of Pulsar UAV, the collaboration with NanoMalaysia will help Pulsar UAV to validate the needs of drone services in various sectors particularly, agriculture.

“The market validation gives us reason to further improve our drone services by developing an on-board hydrogen generator. Now, with our in-house hydrogen technology, we are not only improving the drone services, but we are also able to venture into other sectors like energy and transportation,” Izmir said.

In a similar note, Dr Rezal Khairi Ahmad, CEO of NanoCommerce and NanoMalaysia said that NanoMalaysia places an enormous intrinsic value on the project through a congregation of project investments, intellectual properties, and market validation and access.

The on-board hydrogen powered drone has already been sandboxed for precision agriculture with a level of success,” Rezal said.

The joint venture will also enable NanoMalaysia Berhad to further develop the existing Hydrogen Paired Hybrid Energy Storage System (H2SS) – which currently powers Pulsar’s drones – for another project. It will be Malaysia’s first locally developed electric motorsports vehicle, the Hydrogen Paired Electric Racecar (HyPER).

HyPER, aims to mobilise the Malaysian automotive and transportation sectors in the direction of renewable energy, specifically green hydrogen as a first step towards a Hydrogen Economy.

The global Electric Vehicle (EV) market stood at USD39.8 billion (RM167 billion) in 2018 and is projected to reach USD1.5 trillion (approximately RM6.4 trillion) by 2025.

Currently, the EV market is hindered by the lack of charging infrastructures and the need for an extended charging time, as well as hydrogen refuelling stations for battery and fuel cell versions respectively. The high-pressured hydrogen tanks in fuel cell-EVs also present a substantial safety risk. The H2SS technology will be able to combat these issues.

Firstly, H2SS will be placed in HyPER as a cartridge and is powered using distilled or tap water and powdered hydrides – eliminating the need for expensive hydrogen refuelling stations.

Secondly, it can generate its own hydrogen fuel, which takes away the risk of having a hydrogen tank in the vehicle.

Dr Rezal also commented that HyPER is due for extensive shakedown in August 2020 with participation from potential industrial up-takers for quicker penetration into the automotive sector.

Malaysia will immediately possess an advantage in the form of homegrown hydrogen technology to catalyse the growth of a new and green automotive and transport industry in the near term.
Read the original article on Business Today.

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A Titanate Nanowire Mask that can Eliminate Pathogens EPFL Labs

nano wire mask atitanatenan

Filter ‘paper’ made from titanium oxide nanowires is capable of trapping pathogens and destroying them with light. This discovery by an EPFL laboratory could be put to use in personal protective equipment, as well as in ventilation and air conditioning systems.

As part of attempts to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic, paper masks are increasingly being made mandatory. Their relative effectiveness is no longer in question, but their widespread use has a number of drawbacks. These include the environmental impact of disposable masks made from layers of non-woven polypropylene plastic microfibres. Moreover, they merely trap pathogens instead of destroying them. “In a hospital setting, these masks are placed in special bins and handled appropriately,” says László Forró, head of EPFL’s Laboratory of Physics of Complex Matter. “However, their use in the wider world—where they are tossed into open waste bins and even left on the street—can turn them into new sources of contamination.”

Researchers in Forró’s lab are working on a promising solution to this problem: a membrane made of titanium oxide nanowires, similar in appearance to filter paper but with antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Their material works by using the photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide. When exposed to ultraviolet radiation, the fibers convert resident moisture into oxidizing agents such as hydrogen peroxide, which have the ability to destroy pathogens. “Since our filter is exceptionally good at absorbing moisture, it can trap droplets that carry viruses and bacteria,” says Forró. “This creates a favorable environment for the oxidation process, which is triggered by light.”

The researchers’ work appears today in Advanced Functional Materials, and includes experiments that demonstrate the membrane’s ability to destroy E. coli, the reference bacterium in biomedical research, and DNA strands in a matter of seconds. Based on these results, the researchers assert—although this remains to be demonstrated experimentally—that the process would be equally successful on a wide range of viruses, including SARS-CoV-2.

Their article also states that manufacturing such membranes would be feasible on a large scale: the laboratory’s equipment alone is capable of producing up to 200 m2 of filter paper per week, or enough for up to 80,000 masks per month. Moreover, the masks could be sterilized and reused up a thousand times. This would alleviate shortages and substantially reduce the amount of waste created by disposable surgical masks. Finally, the manufacturing process, which involves calcining the titanite nanowires, makes them stable and prevents the risk of nanoparticles being inhaled by the user.

A start-up named Swoxid is already preparing to move the technology out of the lab. “The membranes could also be used in air treatment applications such as ventilation and air conditioning systems as well as in personal protective equipment,” says Endre Horváth, the article’s lead author and co-founder of Swoxid.


Getting more Cancer-Fighting Nanoparticles to where they are Needed: University of Toronto

2-chemotherapyCredit: CC0 Public Domain

University of Toronto Engineering researchers have discovered a dose threshold that greatly increases the delivery of cancer-fighting drugs into a tumor.

Determining this threshold provides a potentially universal method for gauging nanoparticle dosage and could help advance a new generation of cancer therapy, imaging and diagnostics.

“It’s a very simple solution, adjusting the dosage, but the results are very powerful,” says MD/Ph.D. candidate Ben Ouyang, who led the research under the supervision of Professor Warren Chan.

Their findings were published today in Nature Materials, providing solutions to a drug- problem previously raised by Chan and researchers four years ago in Nature Reviews Materials.

Nanotechnology carriers are used to deliver drugs to cancer sites, which in turn can help a patient’s response to treatment and reduce , such as hair loss and vomiting. However, in practice, few injected particles reach the tumor site.

In the Nature Reviews Materials paper, the team surveyed literature from the past decade and found that on median, only 0.7 percent of the chemotherapeutic nanoparticles make it into a targeted tumor.

“The promise of emerging therapeutics is dependent upon our ability to deliver them to the target site,” explains Chan. “We have discovered a new principle of enhancing the delivery process. This could be important for nanotechnology, genome editors, immunotherapy, and other technologies.”

Chan’s team saw the liver, which filters the blood, as the biggest barrier to nanoparticle drug delivery. They hypothesized that the liver would have an uptake rate threshold—in other words, once the organ becomes saturated with nanoparticles, it wouldn’t be able to keep up with . Their solution was to manipulate the dose to overwhelm the organ’s filtering Kupffer cells, which line the liver channels.

The researchers discovered that injecting a baseline of 1 trillion nanoparticles in mice, in vivo, was enough to overwhelm the cells so that they couldn’t take up particles quick enough to keep up with the increased doses. The result is a 12 percent delivery efficiency to the tumor.

“There’s still lots of work to do to increase the 12 percent but it’s a big step from 0.7,” says Ouyang. The researchers also extensively tested whether overwhelming Kupffer cells led to any risk of toxicity in the liver, heart or blood.

“We tested gold, silica, and liposomes,” says Ouyang. “In all of our studies, no matter how high we pushed the dosage, we never saw any signs of toxicity.”

The team used this threshold principle to improve the effectiveness of a clinically used and chemotherapy-loaded nanoparticle called Caelyx. Their strategy shrank tumors 60 percent more when compared to Caelyx on its own at a set dose of the chemotherapy drug, doxorubicin.

Because the researchers’ solution is a simple one, they hope to see the threshold having positive implications in even current nanoparticle-dosing conventions for human clinical trials. They calculate that the human threshold would be about 1.5 quadrillion nanoparticles.

“There’s a simplicity to this method and reveals that we don’t have to redesign the  to improve delivery,” says Chan. “This could overcome a major delivery problem.”

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