Science - October 12, 2010

Dry-cleaning with CO2 wins award

The Indian PhD student Soumi Banerjee and MSc student Pieter Mulder have jointly won an incentive award from Akzo Nobel. They are devising an environment-friendly way of steaming clothes.

Drycleaners now use Perc (perchloroethylene) to clean clothes. This substance is very harmful for the users and the environment. An environment-friendly alternative is 'CO 2 washing': removing dirt using liquid carbon dioxide under high pressure. This method removes all stains except particle filth. Banerjee is now looking into how to loosen these particles by using CO 2 . She is supervising MSc student Pieter Mulder to do part of the research. Banerjee has acquired a lot of knowledge on washing at Unilever Research in India, says doctorate supervisor Mieke Kleijn of the Laboratory of Physical Chemistry and Colloid Science.
Kleijn is keeping quiet about the research results because of a possible patent application. The likelihood of industrial applications for the academic findings is partly the reason why the jury at Akzo Nobel has decided to honour the research work in Wageningen.
Thousand euros
The price was awarded on 7 October on the occasion of the presentation of the prestigious Akzo Nobel Science Award, which went to Eindhoven researcher Bert Meijer this year.
This was the first time that the chemicals company organized an event too to recognize young researchers. Five candidates presented their research posters and gave lectures to scientists and company managers. Banerjee and Mulder were chosen as the best by the jury and received a certificate and a sum of a thousand euros.