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利用纳米技术生产更加安全环保的尿不湿和卫生产品

来源:中国科技网 作者:张薇编译 2016年09月28日 22:12
[导读] 根据发表在《Applied Materials Today》上的一项最新研究,一种由微型纳米纤维制成的新材料,可以替代现在尿不湿和卫生产品中使用的潜在有害物质。

 

根据发表在《Applied Materials Today》上的一项最新研究,一种由微型纳米纤维制成的新材料,可以替代现在尿不湿和卫生产品中使用的潜在有害物质。

该论文的作者(来自印度理工学院)介绍,他们的新材料对环境影响较小,而且比人们现在使用的材料更加安全。

过去几十年里,一次性尿不湿,卫生棉和其它卫生用品用高吸水树脂(SAPs)作为吸收剂。这些物质能够吸收几倍于自身重量的液体;平均每个尿不湿能吸收30倍于自身重量的体液。但是这个材料不能生物降解:在理想条件下,一个尿不湿要花500年才能降解。SAPs还会产生中毒性休克综合征这样的健康问题,在20世纪80年代它们被禁止在卫生棉上使用。

据研究人员介绍,一种由静电醋酸纤维素纳米纤维(electrospun cellulose acetate nanofibers)制成的新材料,没有这些缺点。在他们的研究中,研究团队分析了该材料,他们认为可以代替目前女性卫生产品中使用的SAPs。

“长时间使用市售产品,可能会导致中毒性休克综合征和其他症状,开发SAPs的安全替代品,这非常重要,” 该论文的通讯作者钱德拉·沙马博士说。我们建议在不改变产品性能,甚至提高其吸水性和舒适性的基础上,消除目前市售产品中使用的有害物质,非生物降解高吸水性树脂。

纳米纤维是利用电纺纱技术生产的一种长而薄的纤维。由于它们的表面积大,研究人员认为它们比现有材料的吸水性更高。市售卫生棉中使用的材料是由扁平的,带状纤维制成,大约30微米后。相比之下,纳米纤维的厚度是150纳米,要比目前材料薄200倍。该材料比现有产品中使用的材料更舒适,在使用后留下的残留物更少。

纳米纤维材料也是多孔材料(超过90%),传统材料(80%),因此它吸水性更强。还可以证明一点:用生理盐水和人工合成尿液测试,静电纺织纤维材料比市售产品更吸水。他们也测试了两个添加SAPs的纳米纤维材料的不同版本,对比结果表明,单独使用纳米纤维的效果更好。

“我们的研究结果表明,静电纺织纳米纤维在吸水性和舒适性等方面都优于市售的卫生产品,我们认为这是取代目前使用的有害物质产品的很好备选,”夏尔马博士说。“我们希望通过卫生产品更安全的使用和处置,能够对人类健康和环境产生积极影响。”

以下为英文原文:

Nanotech could give us safer, greener diapers and sanitary products

A new material made of tiny nanofibers could replace potentially harmful materials found in diapers and sanitary products, according to new research published in Applied Materials Today.

The authors of the new paper, from the Indian Institute of Technology, say their new material would have less of an environmental impact and be safer for humans than existing materials.

For the last few decades, disposable diapers, sanitary napkins and other sanitary products have been made absorbent using superabsorbent polymers (SAPs). These materials are capable of absorbing many times their own weight in liquid; the average diaper can absorb 30 times its own weight in bodily fluids. But the material is not biodegradable: in ideal conditions, it can take as long as 500 years for a diaper to degrade. And SAPs have been linked to health problems like Toxic Shock Syndrome, leading to their ban in tampons in the 1980s.

According to researchers, a new material – made of electrospun cellulose acetate nanofibers – does not have these drawbacks. In their study the team analyzed the material, and they suggest it could replace the use of SAPs in female hygiene products.

"Prolonged use of commercially available products could lead to toxic shock syndrome and other conditions, so it's vital to develop a safe alternative to SAPs," explained Dr. Chandra Sharma, corresponding author of the study. "We propose to eliminate the use of harmful, non-biodegradable superabsorbent polymers from commercially available sanitary napkins without compromising the performance, and even enhancing absorbency and comfort."

The nanofibers are long and very thin fibers made using a technique called elecrospinning – spinning using electricity. Because of their large surface area compared to their volume, the researchers thought they would be more absorbent than existing materials. They compared the performance of the material to commercially available sanitary napkins and found it to be even more absorbent.

The material used in commercially available sanitary napkins is made up of flat, ribbon-like fibers that are about 30 micrometers thick. In contrast, the nanofibers are about 150 nanometers thick – about 200 times thinner. The material is more comfortable than those used in existing products and leaves behind less residue after use.

The nanofiber material is also more porous (over 90 percent) than the traditional material used (80 percent), making it more absorbent. This was confirmed: in tests using saline and synthetic urine, the electrospun fiber material was much more absorbent than commercially available products. They also tested two alternative versions of the nanofiber material with SAPs added and found they were not as absorbent as the nanofibers alone.

"Our results show that electrospun nanofibers outperform commercially available sanitary products in terms of absorbency and comfort, and we think this makes it a good candidate to replace the potentially harmful materials currently used," said Dr. Sharma. "By making sanitary products safer to use and dispose, we hope to have a global impact on health and the environment."

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