Researchers at the University of York‘s Department of Chemistry have discovered that polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA) can be transformed into an anti-microbial substance that destroys Escherichia coli and some strains of Staphylococcus aureus. PVA is a water-soluble synthetic polymer that has excellent film forming, emulsifying, adhesive properties while being resistant to oil, grease and solvents. When doped with iodine, PVA can be used to polarize light, which is one of the fundamental methods required to make LCD technology work.
Earlier the same researchers recovered PVA from LCD TV displays, transformed it into a substance that could be used for tissue scaffolds that enhance body regeneration or drug delivery pills and dressings that can be applied to different parts of the body. All of this is possible because the PVA-transformed substance is compatible with the human body.
Dr. Hunt of the York Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence:
The influence of LCDs on modern society is dramatic – it is estimated that 2.5 billion LCDs are approaching the end of their life, and they are the fastest growing waste in the European Union.
But we can add significant value to [sic] this waste. 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.
Now we have gone a step further by enhancing its anti-microbial properties through the addition of silver nanoparticles, with the result being that it can destroy bacterial infections such as E.coli. Potentially, it could be used in hospital cleaning products to help to reduce infections.
Every single LCD TV, LCD monitor, notebook, netbook, smartphone will eventually find its way to a landfill. I am extremely relieved to see that the display portion of that waste can be recycled to do something so valuable.