Nano Coatings Are Revolutionizing Ordinary Cleaning Tasks
Nanotechnology is slowly taking over the world within a diverse array of industries. These microscopic nano-particles are so broad in their material composition and purpose that the potential applications are countless.
Much of the focus lies in medical care and pharmaceutical work. However, there are also many modern developments related to cleaning products.
Nano Technology Used For Robot Cleaners
Here we will look at some of the different technological advancements in cleaning products, materials, and in robot cleaners, too, within the niche of pool cleaning.
How can nano-coatings on pools reduce the need for intense cleaning? Can robotic cleaning devices take advantage of nanotech in cleaning operations? Also, is a self-cleaning pool viable?
Is a self-cleaning pool too high on a pool owner’s wish list with the technology available?
The self-cleaning pool is a concept that many pool owners can get behind. Pool cleaning can be a costly, labor-intensive process with too much reliance on dangerous chemicals.
Pumping and filtration systems help with the quality of the water, but the skimmer baskets and filters still require manual cleaning. Also, those without automated robotic pool cleaners, like those models mentioned below, face some tough cleaning as grime and dirt cake the surfaces.
There are pool manufacturers that claim to have the answer with a pool that cleans itself and reduces the need for hard labor.
(Source: Phil Andrew)
Compass Pool is one of the leading designers of so-called self-cleaning pools. They use their Vantage Self-Cleaning System to reduce the likelihood of dirt sticking to the surfaces. The simple approach uses jet nozzles along the floor of the pool to force the dirt into the drainage system. This then forces the dirt into the dirt basket, which users empty at a later date.
Some models have jets around the stairs, so it doesn’t miss a surface. There is potential here in this moving, oxygenated water, with improved quality and a reduction in cleaning efforts. The makers talk about the chance to enjoy a “sparkling clean” pool every time that owners want to swim. However, there are some potential downsides here that pool owners need to consider.
The problem here is that this only reduces the need for cleaning by loosening and moving the dirt around. The dirt and grime still stick to the surfaces. Pool owners have to hope that the jets propel it into the cleaning system and filter, rather than allow it to circulate the pool.
Users require minimal elbow grease for a good clean, but it is far from a perfect experience. The good news is that pool designers can use more than a few well-placed jets to improve the pool cleaning process. Nanocoatings on the surfaces are an even better solution.
Nano-coatings provide a different approach to the problem with microscopic, hydrophobic particles.
The best alternative to these jets is to create a pool with a beneficial nano-coating. One that keeps the surfaces free from dirt and algae for a more effortless clean. The right particles can repel dirt and interact with water in a way that allows for a cleaner surface. Essentially, this is the true “self-cleaning” pool surface.
There are pool surfaces and other materials that can provide this benefit. Materials based on lotus leaves are a brilliant way of mimicking nature, although flawed in this context. Nano-ceramics offer a more practical approach that is easy to apply. Self-cleaning glass offers an alternative with different applications.
Hydrophobic Lotus Leaves
The inspiration for some of the first nanotech materials for a cleaner surface came from nature. Developers observed the properties of the lotus leaf, which always appears to stay clean and pristine, no matter the surroundings. The surface of the leaf is hydrophobic, repelling water into droplets that run down the leaf and remove particles. Other species, such as dragonflies and butterflies, also exhibit this characteristic to stay safe around water or in the rain.
Developers turned the concept into a product called Lotus Effect. Here they engineered silicon nano-particles into house paint. This is a simple approach that has the potential for protecting some surfaces, such as painted exterior walls. However, there is a serious limitation that rules it out with swimming pools.
The problem is that these coatings are susceptible to Tensides. This means cleaning products like soaps. These products reduce the surface tension of water, inhibiting the formation of drops.
Detergents, or pool cleaners, containing tensides, will affect the Lotus-Effect to the point where it is no longer hydrophobic. This property can return, but it does mean that are limitations in underwater areas that require regular cleaning. Therefore, this is not the best approach when creating the ideal surface for a maintenance-free pool.
Nano-ceramics offer a different approach to this Lotus-Effect surface. The most obvious difference is that companies deliberately develop them and use them for use in swimming pools.
Companies apply a fine coating to the surfaces of a standard pool. This again offers those vital hydrophobic properties. The worst of the dirt, algae and other particles will not stick to the surface, minimizing the need for cleaning. There also appears to be no problem with the use of cleaning products. Consumers will like this approach because it offers an invisible protective layer. It works on most pool surfaces and mosaic tiles.
Self-cleaning glass is an interesting alternative to the nano-ceramic coatings. First of all, it uses water in a completely different way for a similar outcome. Secondly, it provides an entirely different material for the construction of a maintenance-free pool.
Glass sided pools are popular in outdoor areas with a great view or terraces on high rise hotels. It is a modern look that could catch on if it also turns out to be more beneficial for the pool owner. Then there are those with glass sidings around the pool area that want an easy cleaning experience there too.
Activ Glass is one such product that showcases the potential of these materials. A layer of nano-particles on the surface transforms the properties of the glass, without detracting from its look or transparency. The particles are photocatalytic and hydrophilic.
UV rays energize the particles within the glass, which then loosens all the organic molecules stuck to the surface. This means all the dirt, grime, and algae that would normally coat the wall of a pool. The hydrophilic property attracts water molecules. They spread over the particle and wash the loosened dirt and grime away. It is a simple process that can reduce the need for deep cleaning and scrubbing.
The alternative to using nanotechnology on the surfaces to reduce cleaning needs to use nanoparticles in the cleaning agents for more effective results.
Nano-particle on the surfaces repel the dirt. However, nanoparticles in cleaning solutions can help to break that dirt down more easily. Cleaning solutions with nano-emulsions can target the dirt and grime more easily. These oil emulsion particles mix with detergents and attract the dirt, binding with it for a more effective cleaning process.
They are a popular agent in cleaning solutions due to their high surface area per unit volume – like many nanoparticles – as well as their strength, stability, and transparency. These properties mean that they are also helpful in other industries. They include cosmetic items, such as cleaners and medical items.
Once again, pharmaceuticals are a priority, and there is the potential to adapt this binding method in drug delivery. Researchers continue to look into new methods of creating and improving these particles for ease of use and replication.
The use of nano-emulsions via robotic pool cleaners.
A better approach would be to use the nano-emulsions within a robot pool cleaner. This would allow for a more effective, energy-efficient automated solution to the cleaning problem. Robotic pool cleaners are a common tool among pool owners. Modern devices have the ability to map a route around the surfaces, clean the dirt with ease and limit the need for hands-on cleaning, energy use, and chemicals.
Pool owners can leave them alone to get on with the job and return to a clean pool. This is another consideration with those self-cleaning pool with the jets. Could a robot clean up the worst of the mess in a pool with all those jets to work around and that sort of current?
The best robots have a cleaning system where the brushes scrub away at the dirt and suck it up into their dirt canister. This is then emptied as needed. It would not take much to add a dispenser for this solution of nano-emulsions. The robot could release an amount into the water periodically to aid cleaning. More intelligent models may do so when they detect a particularly difficult patch of grime.
This is not the only time that robots have been of worth with nano-enabled cleaning solutions.
Researchers at MIT developed a series of autonomous cleaning robots, not that unlike pool cleaning robots, to help with oil spills. The aim was to generate an army of workers that could deal with the oil in the water in an effective, timely manner. This machine would capture the pollutants in a more efficient manner than human intervention, also reducing risks to human workers.
The high surface area of the small mesh can capture twenty times its weight in oil. This removes a significant amount in one small device. They estimated that 5000 robots could clean a large scale spill in around a month. This “SeaSwarm” of robots uses a nanowire mesh of fine materials with an impressive absorbency rating. This would have a massive impact on disaster relief. Also, the oil is then collected and reused.
Other potential applications of nanoparticles and nanotechnology in robotic pool cleaners.
The popularity of the robotic pool cleaner means that they are sure to be a key tool in pool cleaning for a long time. Self-cleaning pools can only go so far. However, technological advancements with these automated pool cleaners increase their appeal and potential.
It makes sense to take principles of nanoparticles and cleaning tools and apply them to this machine. Therefore, we should also look at other developments in cleaning tools, such as those meshes or new types of brushes.
Nanotechnology experts at the University of Hawaii recently perfected what is now officially the world’s smallest brush. This device initially sounds like a novelty item, with bristles a thousand times finer than a strand of human hair. However, there are implications for small-scale cleaning and improving the surface area of brushes on robots.
There is a simple connection between nanotechnology and the size of computerized devices. Nanotechnology continually shrinks electronic items and computer chips due to the use of silicon nanoparticles.
Devices become smaller and more convenient without sacrificing ability. Instead, they are also getting smarter. The most obvious example of this is the smartphone. Phones continually become smarter and smarter with new chips and processors, while those components continue to shrink. This leads to the slimmer, lighter smartphones consumers desire.
The same is true for any intelligent tech, like an automated pool cleaner. These machines can become smarter and better adapted to the job while shrinking in size. This means there is no compromise on weight – for those lifting the device out of the pool – or maneuverability.
The Future Of Pool Cleaning
So what does this all mean for the way that we clean our pools in the future? We need a mixture of these methods and products for the best approach for the application of nanotechnology in pool cleaning.
Robotic pool cleaners are the tool of choice because of the hands-free convenience, intelligent automation, and effective clean. The application of nanoparticles in the cleaning products they dispense or the brushes scrubbing the dirt should aid their efficiency.
A robot working on a repellent floor of nano-ceramic would also need to exert less effort. The addition of a self-cleaning glass wall then reduces the surfaces that require cleaning, while also improving the view. The self-cleaning pool is not a complete myth, but the best model isn’t the one full of jets. There is a better option.
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