Innovation That Matters

A new non-toxic, bio-inspired surface cleaner repels sticky dirt. | Photo source Jan Kolar / VUI Designer on Unsplash

Bio-inspired surface cleaner makes toilets self-cleaning


The coating saves water and reduces the need for toxic cleaning chemicals

Spotted: Created by a team of Penn State researchers, the non-toxic, bio-inspired surface cleaner repels sticky dirt. The two-step spotLESS materials spray creates nanoscopic hairs coated with lubricant, forcing sticky substances to slide off the coated surface. The spray is quick to apply and easy to use, acts in only five minutes, and its main ingredient is silicone, which naturally biodegrades into carbon dioxide, silica and water.

The inspiration behind the design is the carnivorous pitcher plant, which was developed in the university’s Wong Laboratory for Nature Inspired Engineering. Ideal for use in regions of the world experiencing water scarcity, the team envisions the spray being used to make waterless toilets safer, by preventing the build-up of bacteria. Users may choose the low-volume flush option or to displace water in the tank, and so in homes and businesses with flush toilets, the spray could save a significant amount of water.

The range of applications the spray could be used for is immense, and individuals and organisations are both likely to benefit. From reducing makeup and skincare product waste, to de-icing aeroplane wings and lessening the time needed to keep various surfaces clean, time, money and resources could all be conserved. The team is actively encouraging interested parties to get in touch.  

Other cleaning innovations spotted by Springwise also focus on improving the health of users. A reusable water bottle harnesses UV light to kill harmful bacteria and purify water, and a new method of desalinating water uses solar power.




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