Nanodiamonds Cut Dirt in Laundry, Make Washing Eco-Friendly

By Chelsea Whyte on June 26, 2012 5:42 PM EDT

washing machine
Laundry just got a lot more bling: nanodiamonds in detergent can cut greasy stains twice as well as traditional soaps. (Photo: Creative Commons: Robert S. Do)

Diamonds in your laundry detergent may sound like an unnecessary extravagance, but researchers have found that adding minuscule nanodiamonds to washer soap can cut greasy stains without having to run loads at high temperatures.

Even with modern detergents, water temperatures between 140 and 194 degrees Fahrenheit are usually required to get stains out of laundry, and heating up the gallons of water for a washing machine can cost lots of money and take a toll on the environment.

The eco-friendly alternative? Add nanodiamonds - microscopic pieces of carbon created by exploding synthetically produced diamonds to create miniscule particles that are not much bigger than the size of a DNA molecule.

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"We found that the 5 nanometer diamonds changed the way detergents behaved at 25 degrees centigrade [77 degrees Fahrenheit], doubling the amount of fat removed when using one particular commercial detergent molecule," said Andrew Marsh, who led the 'Cold Water Cleaning Initiative' to explore how carbon can improve everyday household cleaning products.

In tests, Marsh and his team added nanodiamonds to detergents and ran loads of laundry at several temperatures to test the ability of the bling to remove dirt.

"Even at temperatures as low as 15 degrees centigrade [59 degrees Fahreheit], otherwise hard-to-remove fat could be solubilised from a test surface. The physical and chemical insight already gained paves the way for future research to explore how this unique behaviour might be exploited in other ways," Marsh said, according to Futurity.org.

The researchers hope the discovery will make it possible to wash clothes effectively at lower temperatures. Though the minute nanodiamonds don't cost nearly the same as their normal-sized counterparts, the price of products with nanodiamonds may be higher than traditional cleaners.

Nanodiamonds can retail at around $46 a gram, but with mass market use, the price may fall to less than about $8 a gram, reports The Daily Mail.

The full findings are published in the scientific journal of the American Chemical Society, Applied Materials and Interfaces.

© 2012 iScience Times All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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