Volume 26/number 18/January 21-28, 2013
Patented technology uses ions of silver to nix odors, bacteria
By Matthew Spieler
Hicksville, N.Y.—Americans have long had an aversion to germs, but in recent years they have taken it to a different stratosphere thanks to a growing tide of epidemics around the world. This can be seen in the sharp rise of antimicrobial products—from hand sanitizers to disinfectants to odor eliminators. It can even be seen in flooring.
In the $10-billion-a-year antimicrobial business, Dow Microbial Control (DMC), a division of Dow Chemical, is considered the world leader with a 20% market share, noted Karel Williams, global strategic marketing manager, hygiene and personal care. This is why it was approached by the industry to find a solution.
“Manufacturers are consumers as well,” he told FCNews. “They see this growing trend of antimicrobial use and have begun leveraging this hygiene practice. Unfortunately, some of these processes require a number of steps, are not very cost effective or both, making their use limited when compared to the growing world of antimicrobials in consumer products today, Williams explained.
Enter Dow’s newly launched Silvadur Antimicrobial, a patented polymer technology that utilizes the power of silver ions to kill odor-causing bacteria without harm to humans or the environment, and in a more cost-effective manner than other treatments.
Silver has been used as an antimicrobial agent for more than 2,000 years and is currently used by flooring and non-flooring manufacturers to treat their products. The difference with Silvadur, Williams said, is the release of silver ions, not free silver, so there’s nothing harmful or irritating about it. “We’ve known silver is a great antimicrobial but what we didn’t understand is why. It turns out it is not the actual silver particle, rather it is an ion of silver that reacts to bacteria when it comes into contact with it.”
As such, DMC has managed to put the ions of silver in a liquid base so it is sprayed on the product during the manufacturing process. “It is completely particle free and compatible with a broad range of common additives, detergents and other finishing treatments,” he said. “It is also light- and heat-stable, can be used with natural or synthetics fibers, in woven and non-woven goods, and is reusable and recyclable.”
In addition, Silvadur can be applied at different rates so it will last for the expected life of the product. DMC chemically engineered the silver so it releases the ion only in the presence of bacteria. And, as the initial silver ions are released by this interaction, more ions are released allowing the process to continue for the life expectancy of the carpet. This allows a mill to save resources and money while still providing a valued-added benefit to its full range of products.
These may seem like bold claims, but Williams said the product has been thoroughly developed and tested. “That’s why it has been a 5- to 7-year process from the time manufacturers first approached us seeking a solution. As the world leader in antimicrobials, we understand what it takes for a product to be effective, from application to performance.”
Though the Dow name is widely known by consumers, he said the company does not have any intention to make Silvadur a household name. “We are not requiring cross promotion of brands. Silvadur is a trade name. We don’t have the model to grow a carpet company’s brand. We’re just a solution to one aspect of the product; we simply deliver a product that performs. We would rather let the individual manufacturers build their own brands.”
This means Dow is letting mills come up with their own marketing names for the antimicrobial. “We will promote and advertise the technical side of it to the trade and support the mills’ marketing efforts with materials,” Williams noted.
The true value of Silvadur only matters if the manufacturer can position it successfully with their customers and end users, he added. “The market has already shown there is value to this type of ingredient—an antimicrobial—in the product, especially with a company dedicated to promoting its use.”
Silvadur was officially launched in October, and while Williams would not disclose which mills have signed on to use it, he said the first carpets utilizing it should come out sometime during the first quarter. “All the trials have been completed and production is taking place.” And, sometime during the second half of 2013, Williams said the first hard surface flooring product to incorporate Silvadur should be making its debut.
“Based on Dow’s long-time leadership and expertise in microbial technology and the results of our extensive third-party testing, we’re confident Silvadur offers game-changing potential for manufacturers, retailers, brand owners and consumers,” he concluded. “Research demonstrates consumers are willing to pay more for products offering improved freshness, and Silvadur’s numerous benefits help increase a product’s value.”
Visit dowmicrobialcontrol.com or ask your carpet reps if their company is or will be utilzing the patented Silvadur technology.