LCD television waste could fight hospital infections

Chemists at the University of York have discovered a way of recycling waste from LCD televisions to make a substance that combats hospital infections.

Researchers at the University‘s Department of Chemistry have discovered a way of transforming the chemical compound polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA) – a key element of LCD televisions – into an anti-microbial product.

The team says it successfully destroys infections such as Escherichia coli and some strains of Staphylococcus aureus.

LCD televisions are the fastest-growing waste in the EU, and it’s been estimated that another 2.5 billion LCDs are coming to the end of their life in the next year or two. Currently, according to estaimates from the Environmental Protection Agency, only 15 to 20 percent of e-waste is recycled.

“But we can add significant value to this waste,” says Dr Andrew Hunt of the York Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence. “By heating then cooling the PVA and then dehydrating it with ethanol we can produce a high surface area mesoporous material that has great potential for use in biomedicine.”

The anti-microbial properties are enhanced by the addition of silvernanoparticles, which enables the product to destroy bacterial infections such as E.coli.

“Potentially, it could be used in hospital cleaning products to help to reduce infections,” says Hunt.

The next step for the team is to test the PVA-based substance against commercial compounds to determine relative effectiveness. It will also need to get the approval from regulatory agencies to use silver nanoparticles for what is a human health application.