WHAT IS ANTIMICROBIAL TECHNOLOGY?
When talking about antimicrobial technology, it is important to mention the difference between two similar concepts that sometime are used wrongly: antibacterial and antimicrobial. Antibacterial is used to describe substances or materials that can reduce the presence of bacteria, whereas antimicrobial encompasses protection against bacteria, mold and fungi also including some viruses.
WHAT TYPES OF ANTIMICROBIALS ARE THERE?
It is common in everyday life hear talking about disinfectants, antibiotics, and antimicrobial additives. Those are examples of methods we use to avoid microorganisms’ proliferation.
In the market, we can find many types of antimicrobial additives among which those based on silver, zinc, copper, and some organic antimicrobial additives (like some biocides or fungicides).
Silver based additives are widely used in every industry. Silver is a well-documented antimicrobial material that has been shown to kill bacteria, mold, and certain viruses. Silver ions attack microorganisms through different modes of action: by binding to bacteria cell wall blocking the transport of substances in and out the cell, by interacting with the bacteria cell DNA and avoiding cell division, and by blocking the respiratory system of the cell by entering in the bacteria cells walls.
Zinc is also a well-known antimicrobial metal that avoids bacterial and fungi growth due to the multiple inhibitory effects on the intact bacterial cell’s activities such as glycolysis. Additives based on zinc can disturb the bacterial growth either by interacting with the cell surface or entering inside the cell walls.
Copper can ensure protection in preservative and hygienic applications. It´s the material of choice in substrates such as paints and coatings.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
There are three main ways antimicrobial product protection works: by antiadhesive coatings, particles releasing or killing with contact.
Materials covered with antiadhesive coatings prevent bacterial adhesion but do not kill them. Examples are antibiofouling coatings.
In release technology, antimicrobial agents are embedded into the material matrix that works like a reservoir. Depending on the material and the additive nature, this releasing process can be done in a gradually way ensuring protection for different periods of time. However, this protection is limited in time since the particles are gradually reduced in the material matrix.
In contact killing antimicrobial protection, the active substances are immobilized onto the substrate and are the ones in charge to kill bacteria when there´s contact between the bacteria and the material surface.
WHY IS ANTIMICROBIAL PROTECTION IMPORTANT?
Contamination due to bacteria and microorganism has an important effect on public health as has been proved during the last years. The main benefit of antimicrobial protection is avoiding microbial growth and spread.
There are some applications where this protection is even more important to preserve our health: technological devices, transfer lines in food and beverage industries, medical instruments…
In food industries it is vitally important to avoid contamination due to harmful microorganisms: plastic films, containers, tubing, hoses, kitchen tools… those are clear examples of products that could be protected with antimicrobial additives.
Also, antimicrobial protection not only ensures contamination reduction but increase the useful life of the product since microorganisms can affect the mechanical properties of the materials along time due to degradation. Also, discoloration, odor, biofouling, and other aesthetic problems.
WHAT IS VENA® ASEPTISIL?
Our R&D team has recently developed Vena® Aseptisil tubing based on a self-developed antimicrobial silicone formulation with a proven reduction of 99,9% of microbiological activity according to ISO22196:2011 run in an external laboratory.
Vena® Aseptisil is based in non-releasing technology where the antimicrobial particles do not migrate through the material to the media inside the tubing, so it won´t affect the transferred product and the protection will last for the whole useful life of the tubing. On the other hand, additive inside Aseptisil silicone is food contact safe and the final material is in accordance with FDA standards.
The antimicrobial protection in Vena® Aseptisil will prevent bacteria from dairy, food and beverage products adhesion to the tubing walls avoiding the need of exhaust cleaning processes (use of harsh chemicals) between uses. Also, will prevent color, odor and taste changes in the material and the media being transferred.