A new product from the Australian Institute of Food Science (AIFS) could change the way we treat our grout, with its ability to soak up carbon dioxide.
Researchers at the AIFS say it could cut the time it takes to scrub out grout and help prevent future cavities.
The AIFs researchers said they have tested its effectiveness in two conditions: cleaning and cleaning with carbon dioxide and they found that it could reduce the amount of water that the grout had to absorb.
They said it could also reduce the time taken to scrub off the surface of grout.
“It’s the first product to use an aerosol in grout treatment,” AIFC director Dr Michelle McLean said.
“And it has a much longer shelf life than the traditional water-based product.”
The team tested the product using a carbon dioxide treatment that they have already tested in the AIS lab.
“They’re trying to identify the best combination of properties to get the most effective results in the most appropriate environment,” Dr McLean explained.
“So they’ve tested it in two different environments.”
In the lab, the product works by using the CO 2 to soak the grouts surface in a solution.
“The initial reaction is to absorb the carbon dioxide, and then that’s oxidised, and that creates a mixture of oxygen and CO 2 which reacts with the substrate to produce water,” Dr MacLean said.
“Then it has to be removed and it reacts with some more CO 2 and that produces more CO and water, and this creates the desired result.”
The product can be used in all indoor environments, but it is especially suited for grout that washes on floors.
“We don’t want to get it all the way through the grouting, so that’s why we designed this product to absorb a large portion of the surface and then scrub it out of the grOUT,” Dr McKenzie said.
The product uses a combination of ingredients, such as sodium borate and glycerin.
“These are chemicals that we’ve previously used in grouting,” Dr McKenna said.
She said that was the reason why it took so long to get to the commercial market.
“You know, it takes longer than normal to get them from the laboratory,” she said.
Dr McLean and Dr McKenzie are now developing their own version of the product.
“Our team is working on a commercial version, but our first commercial application is still being tested in our lab,” she explained.
The research was published in the journal Science Advances.