PENANG, June 2014 - A team of researchers from the Universiti Sains Malaysia's (USM) School of Chemical Engineering has developed a type of paint that can adsorb coloured and toxic pollutants in effluent released into the ecosystem from the industries especially textile industry.

In a press conference held here recently to showcase and promote the product, USM Vice-Chancellor Profesor Dato' Dr. Omar Osman said, in Malaysia, besides the 1,500 textile and dyeing companies, coloured wastewater is also produced by industries related to paper manufacturing, leather, plastics, food, pharmaceutical and palm oil mills.

"The wastewater is usually discharged into the ecosystem which in turn causes aesthetic pollution and pertubation in the aquatic environment which if not treated properly, can have long term adverse effects on aquatic organisms," said Omar.

At the same press conference, its principal researcher, Dr. Suzylawati Ismail said, this environmentally friendly paint named Paintosorp is produced as a colour removal treatment applying a new concept of adsorption using thin-coated adsorbent layer that can adsorb coloured effluent.

"Paintosorp can be applied to the surfaces of the existing sewerage system. Hence, this pollution prevention system does not require any new treatment units," she said.

Suzylawati said the existing conventional treatment methods have many weaknesses such as large amount of sludge generated, high waste disposal cost, the lack of facilities in the regeneration process, time-consuming and ineffective treatment.

"Paintosorp was formulated to overcome these various drawbacks as it uses the innovative application concept of adsorption, does not require additional treatment facilities and can be applied on a variety of surfaces such as glass, PVC, wood or concrete which in turn incurs lower cost.

"Besides that, the effectiveness of the adsorbent paint is also due to the content of the material used that is made of natural resources," she added.

It took Suzylawati and her team eight months to come up with the innovation, and so far about RM50,000 has been spent on research & development work with each kilogram of paint costing not more than RM1.

With the university's help, they are currently looking for potential partners to commercialise the product.

Also present were her fellow co-researchers - Profesor Dr. Abdul Latif Ahmad and Syahida Farhan Azha, both from the School of Chemical Engineering.

According to Suzylawati, she was delighted that Paintosorp had bagged a gold medal at the 25th International Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition (ITEX) 2014 held in Kuala Lumpur last month, and also selected as one of the research products exhibited at the Research University Carnival held on 13-14 June 2014 at the USM research campus, also known as SAINS@USM, Bukit Jambul, Penang. - Translation: Tan Ewe Hoe/Text: Nor Rafizah Md. Zain/Photo: Mohd Fairus Md. Isa