LCD television waste ‘could help prevent bacterial infections’

Posted on 18 June 2010

The fastest growing waste in the EU could soon be helping to combat hospital infections, according to scientists at the University of York.

Researchers at the University’s Department of Chemistry have discovered a way of transforming the chemical compound polyvinyl-alcohol (PVA), which is a key element of television sets with liquid crystal display (LCD) technology, into an anti-microbial substance that destroys infections such as Escherichia coli and some strains of Staphylococcus aureus.

The York research team had earlier found a method of recovering PVA from television screens and transforming it into a substance which, due to its compatibility with the human body, could be suitable for use in tissue scaffolds that help parts of the body regenerate. It could also be used in pills and dressings that are designed to deliver drugs to particular parts of the body.

It is estimated that 2.5 billion LCDs are approaching the end of their life but we can add significant value this waste

Dr Andrew Hunt

The latest developments from the York Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence and the York Liquid Crystal Group will be showcased by Dr Andrew Hunt at the 14th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Washington DC.

Dr Hunt, of the York Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence, said: “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 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.”

Dr Hunt will present his research on Wednesday 23 June.

The project’s next steps will be to test the PVA-based substance against commercial compounds to determine relative effectiveness, and to secure approval from regulatory agencies regarding the suitability of silver nanoparticles for human health applications.

The research is a development from a long term project, funded by the UK governments Technology Strategy Board, examining the problems posed by LCD waste in which the University of York is a partner.

Notes to editors:

  • The research is due to be presented by Dr Andrew Hunt at the 14th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference in Washington DC on 23 June. A press briefing will follow at 10.15am EST and can be viewed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/acslive.
  • The 14th Annual Green Chemistry and Engineering Conference is organized by the American Chemical Society’s Green Chemistry Institute®, a world leader in advocating for the implementation of green chemistry and engineering in all aspects of the global, chemical enterprise. The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.
  • The University was chosen by the Government to be part of a consortium to examine ways of recycling liquid displays in 2006. http://www.york.ac.uk/admin/presspr/pressreleases/recyclelcd.htm
  • The York Green Chemistry Centre of Excellence is based in the Department of Chemistry which was ranked among the top ten in the country in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. More information about the department and the Centre can be found at http://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/.
  • Further information about LCDs and the recovery of components from LCD waste see is available at http://www.york.ac.uk/chemistry/staff/academic/h-n/amatharu/.
  • Follow news and events at the University of York at http://www.twitter.com/UniOfYork. A newsfeed is also available at http://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news-feeds/.

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