By Nick Collins
The spray, which is harmless to the environment, can be used to protect against disease, guard vineyards against fungal threats and coat the nose cones of high-speed trains, it has been claimed.
The versatile spray, which forms an easy-clean coating one millionth of a millimetre thick – 500 times thinner than a human hair – can be applied to virtually any surface to protect it against water, dirt, bacteria, heat and UV radiation.
It is hoped that liquid glass, a compound of almost pure silicon dioxide, could soon replace a variety of cleaning products which are harmful to the environment, leaving our world coated in an invisible, wipe-clean sheen.
The spray forms a water-resistant layer, meaning it can be cleaned using only water. Trials by food-processing companies showed that sterile surfaces covered with a film of liquid glass were equally clean after a rinse with hot water as after their usual treatment with strong bleach.
The patent for the technology is owned by a German company, Nanopool, which is in discussions with UK companies and the NHS about the use of liquid glass for a wide range of purposes.
Several organisations are said to be testing the product, including a train company in Britain, which is using liquid glass on both the interior and exterior of the train, a luxury hotel chain, a designer clothing company and a German branch of a hamburger chain.
Key to the product’s versatility is the fact it can be sold in a solution of either alcohol or water, depending on what surface needs to be coated. The layer formed by the liquid glass is said to be flexible and breathable.
Neil McClelland, Nanopool’s UK project manager, told The Independent: “Very soon almost every product you purchase will be protected with a highly durable, easy-to-clean coating … the concept of spray-on glass is mind-boggling.”