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Silence: Odorless Charcoal Bandages

Silence: Odorless Charcoal Bandages

Activated carbon, which helps absorb bad odors, is used in a number of appliances and appliances, from cooker hoods to dressings. The study showed that activated charcoal may also help remove urine odor from incontinence pads. Using experiments with the odorous molecule p-cresol, a toxic aromatic compound found in human urine, the team showed that activated carbon, which consists largely of carbon-altered graphene, can trap the odor rather than release it into the environment.

Less diapers, more odors

Modern pads are good at absorbing and holding a lot of fluid, which means they don’t need to be changed and in practice they don’t change as often as in the past. However, urine odor is still a problem. Isabelle Simonson of the University of Gothenburg explains here that with the correct concentration of activated carbon, the odor test molecule remains trapped in the liquid and does not cause an unpleasant odor.

“The odor molecule studied here, p-cresol, is a volatile organic hydrocarbon, which is also found in human urine and is hydrophobic, which means that it avoids water. This is one of the reasons why it exits from the urine into the surrounding air and spreads the odor,”

What about electrically charged surfaces? Manufacturers of pads and other hygiene products have long known that an electrically charged surface can absorb odors. Activated carbon, an inexpensive and environmentally friendly material, already recognized for its ability to absorb odor, when weakly charged, is here proving to be very effective at attracting p-cresol molecules from the liquid, reducing odors. Moreover, salts naturally present in urine, which reduce the water solubility of organic molecules, increase their absorption by activated carbon.

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This promising new data for developing more comfortable protections for people suffering from incontinence could find other applications, for example in water and wastewater treatment and the development of new hygiene products. There is still, note that researchers settle on the manufacture of these activated carbon-based protections, the color problem.