A new bactericidal system composed of fibreglass impregnated with silver (Ag) nanoparticles was developed and tested. Silver content, particle size and distribution were characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The antibacterial effectiveness was evaluated against Escherichia coli (E. coli, ATCC 29055). The minimum inhibitory loading was determined to be less than 1.8 wt% of silver nanoparticles per gram of fibreglass. In a 1 h immersion test, using a 0.1 mg fibreglass mat ml−1, with 2.9 wt% loading of silver nanoparticles completely disinfected 100 ml of 106 CFU ml−1 of E. coli, dramatically outperforming activated carbon fibres impregnated with silver. Inactivation rate studies of 0.05 mg fibreglass mat ml−1 (Ag 1.8 wt%) with 1012 CFU E. coli displayed a 7 log reduction in 5 minutes. The activation and reuse of fibreglass (Ag 4.3 wt%) maintained its full effectiveness after two cycles of use and thermal regeneration at 350°C.

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