Developing antimicrobial water containers

Nanosafe Solutions is a technology based start-up focusing on imparting innovative functionalities stemming from nanotechnology to polymer and material systems.

The current work focuses on developing and manufacturing antimicrobial water containers and bottles that helps to keep stored water safe from microbes for upto 10 days using nano-copper technology. It is suitable for underprivileged population who have to walk a 30 min round trip to get their supply and have to store water for prolonged periods.

The antimicrobial bottles are also meant for use at homes, offices, hospitals and schools. The project has won the prestigious Biotechnology Ignition Scheme (BIG) grant with seed funding sponsored by BIRAC, DBT, GoI to demonstrate the proof of concept. It is the first grade of polymer nanocomposite to be commercialised in India. The antimicrobial technology was developed by Dr. Anasuya Roy as part of her doctoral research program at IIT Delhi with National Award winner in polymer nanocomposites Prof. Mangala Joshi as PhD supervisor who is also the co-founder of the start-up.

In an interaction with Dr Vanita Srivastava, founder of Nanosafe Solutions, Dr Anasuya Roy talks about her start-up journey, the challenges and more.

Edited excerpts:

How and when did you get the idea for this start-up?

Safe and drinkable water forms the basis of human life and is actually a kind of fundamental right. It is appalling to witness long queues of mostly women before tube-wells and ground-wells to get their regular supply of water for drinking and cooking. This is a daily task, sadly quite common in the underprivileged masses in India. What is more appalling is the diverse nature of containers that they use to take and store water. These range anywhere from worn out plastic buckets to discarded paint containers and chemical storage drums. Even if the collected water has negligible quantity of microbes, stagnant water stored in containers facilitates microbe proliferation, making the water unfit for drinking after 4-6 h. Drinking microbe contaminated water causes serious bacterial and viral infections, leading to fatal consequences especially in children under five years.

The copper based antimicrobial nanotechnology was developed as a research plan, however to find useful applicability, the technology was translated to an antimicrobial product to make water safe from microbial load.

What were the main challenges that you faced? How did you address them?

Safe and drinkable water forms the basis of human life and is actuallySince the technology leads to a novel material whose processing is unknown to the industry, bulk trials to produce antimicrobial additive (nanomaterial) presents challenges of handling costly nanomaterial. Awareness workshops involving unskilled labour was conducted. There was also the issue of penetration into well-established manufacturing units to produce containers in small quantity. Micro to small scale enterprises were targeted as potential vendors.

We also faced processing challenges to produce defect free container as the additive changes the melt strength and viscosity of the polymer. Repeated trials were undertaken to minimize the defects.

What are your future plans?

Our vision is to develop our own production plant by 2024 equipped with manufacturing machines. Currently, the production is being outsourced by micro and small scale industry partners.

Team members

1. Dr. Anasuya Roy: Founder and CEO
2. Prof. Mangala Joshi: Founder and Director
3. Mr. Shubham Agnihotri: Operations Executive
4. Mr. Rahul Sahu: Technical Assistant

13th Feb 2020