“It’s not just to make this really cool product, but also to help improve people’s lives.”
Theresa Dankovich invented germ-killing water filters as a graduate student and co-founded her company Folia Water in 2016 to scale up production. Folia Filters (US Patent 9,611,153) are made of thick paper embedded with silver nanoparticles, which are lethal to microbes. The filters were originally distributed in Safe Water Books—each book provided a year of safe drinking water for a family. Dankovich’s team has field tested her inexpensive filters with users in South Africa, Ghana, Honduras, Bangladesh, Kenya, and Haiti. “I saw an opportunity to simply listen to the people . . . and to deliver designs that fit with the culture,” she notes.
In response to COVID-19, Dankovich used the same low-cost antimicrobial paper to create an antiviral 3-ply face mask. Used as a substitute for the familiar blue material on the outer layer of a mask, the Folia paper stops microbes from growing on the surface most touched by users. The 75% wood-based paper from sustainable sources that is used in the masks can be manufactured on existing standard paper mills or coating machines.
Dankovich also has a patent application pending for microwaveable paper food packaging embedded with metal nanoparticles that absorb microwave radiation and convert it into heat. Surrounding the entire food portion with the nanoparticle-infused packaging provides better browning and crisping results than the typical “sleeve” included in some microwaveable foods.
Source for quote above: Inventive Minds: Theresa Dankovich, 2017, https://youtu.be/Icxxzhmu-fE.