A nanomaterial originally developed to fight toxic waste is now helping reduce
debilitating fumes in homes with corrosive drywall.
Developed by Kenneth Klabunde of Kansas State University, and improved over
three decades with support from the National Science Foundation, the FAST-ACT
material has been a tool of first responders since 2003.
Now, NanoScale Corporation
of Manhattan, Kansas--the company Klabunde co-founded to market the technology--has
incorporated FAST-ACT into a cartridge that breaks down the corrosive drywall
Homeowners have reported that the chemicals--particularly sulfur compounds
such as hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide--have caused respiratory illnesses,
wiring corrosion and pipe damage in thousands of U.S. homes with sulfur-rich,
"It is devastating to see what has happened to so many homeowners because
of the corrosive drywall problem, but I am glad the technology is available
to help," said Klabunde. "We've now adapted the technology we developed
through years of research for FAST-ACT for new uses by homeowners, contractors
The new cartridge, called OdorKlenz®, takes the place of the existing air
filter in a home. The technology is similar to one that NanoScale adapted in
2008 for use by a major national disaster restoration service company for odors
caused by fire and water damage.
In homes with corrosive drywall, the cartridge is used in combination with
related FAST-ACT-based, OdorKlenz® surface treatments (and even laundry
additives) to remove the sulfur-bearing compounds causing the corrosion issues.
Developers at NanoScale tested their new air cartridge in affected homes that
were awaiting drywall removal, and in every case, odor dropped to nearly imperceptible
levels within 10 days or less and corrosion was reduced.
The FAST-ACT material is a non-toxic mineral powder composed of the common
elements magnesium, titanium and oxygen. While metal oxides similar to FAST-ACT
have an established history tackling dangerous compounds, none have been as
NanoScale's breakthrough was a new method to manufacture the compound as a
nanocrystalline powder with extremely high surface area--only a few tablespoons
have as much surface area as a football field.
The surface area allows more interactions between the metal oxides and the
toxic molecules, enabling the powder to capture and destroy a large quantity
of hazardous chemicals ranging from sulfuric acid to VX gas--and their hazardous
"The concept of nano-sized adsorbents as both a cost-efficient, useful
product for first responders and an effective product for in-home use illustrates
the wide spectrum of possibilities for this technology," said NSF program
director Rosemarie Wesson, who oversaw NanoScale's NSF Small Business Innovation
Resarch grants. "It is great to see the original work we supported to help
reduce the toxic effects of hazardous spills now expand into other applications."
In coming months, the company is proposing its technology for use in Gulf Coast
residences affected by the recent oil spill and other hazardous situations where
airborne toxins are causing harm.
In addition to extensive support from NSF, the development of FAST-ACT and
NanoScale's technology has been supported by grants from the U.S. Army, DTRA,
Air Force, DARPA, JPEO, MARCORSYSCOM , the CTTSO, USSOCOM, NIOSH, DOE, NIH and