MANHATTAN, KS - A nanomaterial originally developed to fight toxic waste is now helping reduce debilitating fumes in homes with corrosive drywall.
Developed by Kenneth Klabunde of Kansas State University, and improved over three decades with support from the National Science Foundation, the FAST-ACT material has been a tool of first responders since 2003.
Now, NanoScale Corp. of Manhattan, KS, the company Klabunde co-founded to market the technology, has incorporated FAST-ACT into a cartridge that breaks down the corrosive drywall chemicals.
Homeowners have reported that the chemicals, particularly sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, have caused respiratory illnesses, wiring corrosion and pipe damage in thousands of U.S. homes with sulfur-rich, imported drywall.
The new cartridge, called OdorKlenz®, takes the place of the existing air filter in a home. The technology is similar to one that NanoScale adapted in 2008 for use by a major national disaster restoration service company for odors caused by fire and water damage.
In homes with corrosive drywall, the cartridge is used in combination with related FAST-ACT-based, OdorKlenz surface treatments (and even laundry additives) to remove the sulfur-bearing compounds causing the corrosion issues.
Developers at NanoScale tested their new air cartridge in affected homes that were awaiting drywall removal; in every case, odor dropped to nearly imperceptible levels within 10 days or less, and corrosion was reduced.
The FAST-ACT material is a nontoxic mineral powder composed of magnesium, titanium and oxygen. While metal oxides similar to FAST-ACT have an established history tackling dangerous compounds, none have been as effective.
NanoScale's breakthrough was a new method to manufacture the compound as a nanocrystalline powder with extremely high surface area; only a few tablespoons have as much surface area as a football field.
The surface area allows more interactions between the metal oxides and the toxic molecules, enabling the powder to capture and destroy a large quantity of hazardous chemicals ranging from sulfuric acid to VX gas, and their hazardous byproducts, in minutes.
In coming months, the company is proposing its technology for use in Gulf Coast residences affected by the recent oil spill and other hazardous situations where airborne toxins are causing harm.