Belief mineral could have wide application

Peter Dunn with his Non-Scents odour removal product. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Peter Dunn with his Non-Scents odour removal product. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Its existence might not be well known but a natural mineral - HS1 - is not to be sniffed at, Dunedin man Peter Dunn believes.

Mr Dunn is involved with a Dunedin-based company that is manufacturing an odour-removal product that uses the mineral to remove the likes of pet, car, cigarette, cooking, shoe and household odours.

Non-Scents is being exported to Australia and the United States as well as being sold in New Zealand.

Mr Dunn also had an idea that it might be possible to include the mineral in a polymer and, after an approach to a polymer manufacturer, the first batches have been made.

Licensing would be sold to those wanting to manufacture products using it and it could create export opportunities, he said.

Mr Dunn became aware of HS1 a few years ago when he was working on a product that was to be used to filter out contaminants and excess nutrients from farm run-off.

He was told of a natural mineral that could be used as a filtering substrate but that also had some other special characteristics, including the ability to take in and release odours and some gases, and it could be used ''over and over again''.

The mineral was quite plentiful in New Zealand - he reckoned there were ''billions'' of tonnes of it - but it had ''flown below the radar'' and most people did not know what or where it was, he said.

He tracked down a source in the North Island and initially did some market research using a generic container and selling what is known as Non-Scents.

After selling 500 containers of the product, he realised he needed to come up with an attractive design for them.

Sales were ''starting to pick up all the time'' and while the assembly was fairly labour intensive, he hoped it would eventually be automated as demand increased.

As the mineral was effective at removing ethylene gas, which is produced by fruit and vegetables as they ripen, it got Mr Dunn thinking of ways the mineral could be used with exported produce.

In particular, if there was a way to prolong the life of avocados exported to Europe or the United States, growers would benefit, he said.

He wanted something that would completely surround the produce so it evenly captured the gases emitted from the fruit.

Impregnated foam seemed an obvious choice but it had never been done before, so a process had to be developed.

The applications for an odour or moisture-absorbing polymer were ''ginormous'', including wound dressing, elderly care products and shoe liners.

''Everybody wants organic these days ... and that's exactly what it is. It's completely natural; we don't do anything to it.''

Rather than it being a money-making venture, the aim was to raise money to finance river restoration projects, something that he was passionate about, Mr Dunn said.

He also hoped to encourage people with other ideas for the mineral.

 

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