Nanotechnology enthusiasts envision a world of microscopic robots, cell-sized computer chips and other fantastic devices.
But a small San Jose company has something more down to earth in mind. EnviroSystems uses nanotechnology -- designing objects molecule by molecule on the scale of nanometers, or a billionth of a meter -- to make super-strong but environmentally benign chemicals. The company says it has designed a disinfectant that eliminates the toughest germs and viruses without harming people or the environment.
Customers already are buying the product, called EcoTru, by the drum. JetBlue and several dozen other airlines began using EcoTru last year to clean airplanes in the wake of the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic. Scotia Prince Cruises uses EcoTru to clean ships because it isn't as irritating as bleach and won't corrode decks.
Peter Greenberg, owner of the Morrison House luxury hotel in Alexandria, Va., also is an EcoTru convert. ``We use it to disinfect everything in our hotel because it's safer,'' he said. ``We spray it in a fine mist and it's very effective.''
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows EcoTru to be sold without a toxics warning label. That's not the case for other disinfectants.