LightMagic TiO2 coated lightbulb
When I come home from a few hours away from my house I’m sure I’m not the only dog owner who enters my abode taking in a good whiff from the air inside. None of us want our houses to smell like a kennel but I think we all realise that one becomes accustomed to an ever-present aroma, so it doesn’t hurt to check. This week’s Wet Nose Testing is about the smells we would rather not have in our homes and I think you’ll be as surprised as I was to find out how we can safely eradicate those pongs.
It starts with a Sri Lankan principal research scientist and co-founder of Sri Lanka-based Hybrid Technologies Pvt Ltd, Manju Gunawardana. In 2012-13 he produced a light source that could significantly reduce pathogens by making the cells inactive, with the use of a photo catalytic coating (titanium dioxide), but the story goes back to the 1960s when the Honda-Fujishima effect was noted by Japanese chemist Akira Fujishima, without this early work into nanotechnology there would have been no ‘light bulb moment’. If all that went over your head, fear not, you have no need to be on nodding terms with nano enabled solutions to use this week’s test subject. It seems improbable, but it is a light bulb that the makers LightMagic guarantee to clear your home, office or work place of unpleasant odour, viruses and bacteria and leave the air clean and safe. Can that really work? Or are we gazing upon the Emperor’s New Clothes? I was keen to find out; my first step was looking at available research into the use of titanium dioxide. TiO2 has been used for many years in various products from sunscreen to paint, it has an E number when it’s used as a food colouring, E171, so at least we know that in its previous forms it is a trusted, safe component.
There has been important research over the last few years by various bodies as the situation in health centres throughout the world worsens as patients acquire infections while under hospital care. Poor cleaning has been named as a primary cause and of course in a high traffic area like a hospital it would be almost impossible to keep up with well used areas being soiled. Door handles being some of the most dangerous contact points. Researchers at Ulster University along with the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin produced a study three years ago which looked specifically at novel ways to control bacteria in hospitals including the devastating C Dif (clostridium difficile ) and the ‘super bug’ MRSA. Their findings using photo catalytic surfaces was encouraging but the study from Kansas University was even more startling when the production of ozone as a sanitizer was explored using radiant catalytic ionization. The results were astounding, 99.9 per cent of bacteria and mould killed within 24 hours. So has the LightMagic bulb been tested? The results are there to see on the website, www.lightmagic.biz. There is certainly a marked reduction and it’s efficacy in destroying bacteria is proven.
It was quite a task deciding where to plug my magic bulb in, should I choose the kitchen with all of those cooking smells or perhaps a standard lamp above the cat litter tray? With wet days, gundog training and soggy walks perhaps somewhere near the doorway that is cluttered with drying boots and dog towels? In the end I moved the bulb around my house to see if it did make any appreciable difference tested with a variety of obnoxious effluvium. When the light is first switched on there is a definite ozone smell, that same ocean freshness that you first breathe in as you near the seaside. The second thing I noticed is, it’s bright, very bright. While my house isn’t exactly cast in gloom my ambient lighting isn’t made to startle the rabbits either. I am unsure as to whether the bulb is available in less intensity, my kitchen took on the clarity of an operating theatre which was no bad thing considering my failing eyesight!
The first big test for the bulb was our weekly curry night, I love to cook Asian food from scratch and the aroma of ginger, cardamom, onion and garam masala are quite a challenge if you are a more traditional diner. I turned the light on in that area of the kitchen after the meal had been served and pots packed away in the dishwasher, believe me the smell of curry clings like a toddler in Marks and Sparks! The aroma did dissipate faster than I would have expected, both a positive and a negative result as there are some smells I would want to keep. The removal of bacteria is the boast of the LightMagic, I have no way of assessing that claim, we have to rely on Laboratory testing but the air definitely has a different quality to it, the area of my boot room did smell fresher after just a few hours. At £27 a bulb, is this a viable way to keep the air clean around your home and kennels? The bulb will, they claim, last for 10,000 hours. I think this is a case of trying it for yourself in your particular area of pong; it is perhaps one of those products that needs to be lived with for a while to appreciate the difference it makes to the environment. I’m certainly encouraged to believe that the winter months will be less of an assault on my olfactory system than has proved in the past and all I have to do is turn the light on. Simple.