Anitimicrobial 101

What is an inorganic antimicrobial compound?

The result of using a inorganic antimicrobial compound is a product that contains another defense against the spreading of bacteria, mold, and mildew throughout the work environment. The coatings main active ingredient is silver, the effectiveness of which has been established over the centuries. The antimicrobial compound combines silver with a inorganic ceramic that permits a continuous, controlled release of ionic silver over an extended time period.

How does the antimicrobial compound inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew on coated steel product?

A molecule of the antimicrobial compound has three key components: silver ions (the active agent), silver zeolite (silver is bonded to the zeolite, the compound is considered a silver zeolite), and the release mechanism, which is the ion exchange.

In the presence of moisture, the silver zeolite acts as an ion pump providing the controlled release of silver ions into the environment in exchange for cations ions from the environment. The controlled release provides continuous antimicrobial protection for the product. As humidity increases and the environment becomes ideal for bacterial growth, more silver is released (but, there is an upper limit to the release rate even under very wet conditions).

How quickly does the antimicrobial coating work?

For most types of bacteria, the treated surface will be virtually free of microbial contamination within three to four hours, therefore protecting the product from degradation for the life of the coating. The coating life is a function of the application and surface wear.

Does this mean the product does not need to be cleaned?

The antimicrobial compound is not intended as a substitute for good hygiene. Coated products must still be cleaned to insure the surfaces will be free of destructive microbes. Antimicrobial-coated steel serves as an added measure of cleanliness to support regular cleaning routines between each cleaning. Ambient moisture in the air causes low-level release that effectively maintains an antimicrobial surface between cleanings. As humidity increases and the environment becomes ideal for bacterial growth, more silver is released. Yet there is a maximum release rate. So even under very wet conditions, the silver releases at a slow rate, very slowly, insuring long-term protection.

Why is silver effective against bacteria?

Silver ions are effective against a wide range of bacteria, mold and fungi. Silver ions appear to have multiple ways of being effective against bacteria. While the exact mechanisms of action are not fully understood, three possible ways are:

1. Silver ions are ingested by the microbe and destroy the cell wall of the microbe.

2. Silver interrupts the RNA replication process of the microbe, thereby preventing cell multiplication.

3. Through an oxidation process, silver ions cause cellular respiration to be blocked, effectively choking the microbe.

How does the antimicrobial coating attach to the steel?

The silver zeolite powder is blended into an epoxy resin. The epoxy resin is applied by powder coating, where the resin is separated into a fine powder and it is electronically attached to the steel.

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