The public is familiar with antimicrobial technologies, widely used in products from coatings safeguarding against lingering bacteria and viruses on high-touch surfaces to antimicrobial-infused clothing curbing malodor. In its market research report titled “Antiviral and Antimicrobial Technology Market 2023-2033,” IDTechEx reveals that while the antimicrobial field is diverse, most established companies center on antimicrobial metal ions like silver. Despite their effectiveness, there are compelling reasons to explore alternatives beyond silver, including environmental concerns. IDTechEx examines several alternative approaches in its report, which revolve around three central themes.
Bio-Based Antimicrobial Technologies
Diverse companies are delving into antimicrobial technologies beyond silver, drawing inspiration from nature. Though this field has relatively few active players, each focuses on developing distinctive bio-based antimicrobial materials. Recent product releases by major industry players may propel further attention towards these eco-friendly alternatives, emphasizing sustainability. Commercial products include plant-based antimicrobials such as citric acid, essential oils from thyme and peppermint, all known for their antimicrobial properties for decades.
Another bio-based strategy, not yet commercialized, involves the use of immobilized antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). AMPs, short amino acid sequences found in nature, exhibit broad antimicrobial efficacy. While most AMP research emphasizes therapeutic applications, several market antibiotics are AMPs.
Apart from silver ions, companies have introduced technologies employing widely used disinfectants. Among these, silane quaternary ammonium compounds stand out, where silane allows surface functionalization with covalently linked disinfectants. These “Si-quats” are the second most common antimicrobial technology after silver.
The distinguishing factor between silver and disinfectant-based antimicrobials is response speed to microorganisms. Disinfectants act swiftly, within minutes compared to hours. Approaches involve polymerization chemistry to immobilize disinfectants, depots releasing compounds like hydrogen peroxide, and chlorine-capturing surfaces. Unlike depletable depots, chlorine-capturing surfaces can be regularly renewed using common chlorine-containing sanitizers.
Generating Reactive Oxygen Species
Another intriguing approach involves photocatalytic reactive oxygen species (ROS) production. ROS are naturally generated by living organisms as a defense mechanism. For instance, human immune system cell types like neutrophils produce ROS to combat invaders. Commercial technologies harnessing ROS’s destructive power often employ photocatalysis, with titanium dioxide catalyzing ROS reaction under UV light. Although titanium dioxide boasts eco-friendliness, sustainability, low cost, and minimal antimicrobial resistance, its effectiveness depends on UV light exposure.
IDTechEx’s comprehensive report assesses 100+ companies active in this sector, including those developing the strategies mentioned. To learn more, including sample pages, visit www.IDTechEx.com/antimicrobial.
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