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Yet another neem idea: a solution that keeps clothes germs-free

The fact that neem is good for the skin has been often repeated in ad jingles of various products.

The fact that neem is good for the skin has been often repeated in ad jingles of various products. It protects the skin from harmful micro-organisms and prevents rashes and body odour. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology,Delhi,have now devised yet another way to use its medicinal properties.

Faculty members and Textile Technology students have created a neem-based finishing compound which when applied to fabrics acts like a protective shield to prevent microbes from growing. As a consequence,those with sensitive skin can avoid getting rashes,allergy and other skin infections. They have tried to experiment with various parts of the neem tree,including seeds and bark and found that seeds give the best results.

The bark can be also be used but runs colour while the seeds keeps the compound colourless.

Dr Mangala Joshi,Associate Professor at the Department of Textile Technology,hit upon the idea five years ago and work has been on since.

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Joshi and her team comprising Dr Roli Purwar,S Wazed Ali and Dr Prashant Mishra (Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology) have developed the solution and are currently working towards its production on a larger scale so that it can be introduced in the market. They have also patented the solution called “Neemshield”.

Even when the fabric is produced on a bigger scale,it will be aimed at a very select clientele as the protective shield works for 25 home-washes only. It is therefore expected to work well for items like carpets that get seldom washed,shoes and medical fabrics like band-aid etc. “It can also be used on clothes but for niche clients,” Dr Joshi said.

She explained that an antimicrobial textile is not a unique idea. For a long time,manufacturers abroad have been developing chemicals that make clothes bacteria-free. While those are all chemical-based and can lead to side effects,IIT has made the first herbal antimicrobial textiles.

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For the purpose of research,the researchers tied up with EID Parry (India) that supplied them with the extracts. They were later exploited for their medicinal properties by the researchers to use them for textile applications.

First published on: 09-09-2009 at 04:28:58 am
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