Jan 5, 2021

Unilever taps seaweed to create self-cleaning surfaces

Unilever is set to begin consumer trials of a patented compound derived from seaweed that it says can create self-cleaning surfaces with applications from banknotes to odour-proof shoes. The maker of Cif and Domestos cleaning products has formed a joint venture with the life sciences investment group Innova Partnerships to market the technology, called Lactam, which rather than killing bacteria prevents micro-organisms from forming so-called biofilms on surfaces by disrupting their communications systems. The group will pilot its use in cleaning products, but Mr Hague said it was forming the joint venture - a rare approach for the multinational - with a view to licensing the technology because "The potential business-to-business market is much bigger than the consumer market". The technology, in which Unilever has so far invested £8m, takes a different approach from other attempts to create self-cleaning surfaces, which have focused on repelling oil or water, or in some cases on oxidising organic matter. It is not designed to completely eliminate the need for cleaning he added: "We hope people continue to clean regularly."

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