Airports, airplanes, and modern air travel are, in general, a disgusting business. You’re breathing recirculated air amid throngs of strangers; handling a litany of germ-laden, travel-related documents; and consuming questionable airline food. It’s a wonder the human race hasn’t descended into a Contagion-style outbreak yet. Luckily for us, the Akron-Canton Airport in Ohio is doing its part to combat the impending plague in a surprisingly clever way: self-cleaning security bins at checkpoints.
The airport is the world’s first to deploy this innovative nanotechnology developed by NanoTouch Materials, which uses a combination of light and tech to kill bacteria. The special solution is applied to NanoSeptic liners on the handles and bottoms of each bin.
How does it work? Nano-crystals in the solution are constantly bombarded with light from the airport, creating a oxidation reaction. This continuous process is stronger than bleach at dissolving organic contaminants, and involves no effort on the part of airport workers or passengers.
The project, sponsored by Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, is part of a larger initiative aimed at community safety and health. NanoTouch Materials has also been developing products for other industries, including education and healthcare, since 2015. The Virginia-based company offers products like self-cleaning mouse pads and travel mats (which would be perfect for an airplane tray or the bedside table at your hotel).
Airplanes and airports already invest considerably in things like industrial HEPA filters to scrub the ambient air. This goes a long way toward keeping passengers safe and healthy, but it isn’t perfect. Nanotechnology is a logical next step in our progression toward high-tech airports that are both hospital-clean and ultra-efficient.
Last month, we shared several innovations poised to revolutionize the way we travel. Ahead of next year’s Olympic Games, South Korea’s LG Electronics announced prototype robots that will guide travelers to their airport gates and clean up after them Roomba-style. One day soon, we’ll all look back fondly on how benign these charming conveniences were just before the machines went all Terminator on us.