A new generation of tubes based on nanomaterials with high repellence to water and dirt
Irene Bonadies is a young scientist working at the National Research Council of Italy (CNRS) in Naples, specifically within the Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials, which she joined after graduating in 2006. “I have always worked with plastic materials, modifying and improving their mechanical, physical, and chemical characteristics.’’ The project which earned her the MIT Award as Young Innovator under 35 consists in studying and developing a new generation of rigid and flexible tubes made of plastic material, suitable for the building sector although not limited to it. What makes them special is that they would have advanced hydro and dirt repellence properties, which make them particularly adapted for use in the drainpipes in both households and industries.
These characteristics are well present in nature, particularly on the leaves of one of the plants who is most frequently associated with purity and cleanliness: the lotum. That is how the Lototubes were born. On one hand, the improved drainage effectiveness avoids the proliferation of bacteria which both affect human health and reduce the life of the pipes; on the other hand, the improved drainage capability allows an improved flow rate, a reduced water bill, and generally speaking a reduction in operational costs.
“The road to transform the object of a research into a commercial product is long and hard, that is why from the start we sought collaborations with industry players”, she adds. Two plastic tubes manufacturers based in the North of Italy, Faraplan and FITT, have collaborated to the project.