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article imageWhy many Japanese bullet trains are about to go blue

By Tim Sandle     Mar 25, 2014 in Science
Tokyo - The use of a specially prepared blue paint could soon become commonplace on bullet trains in Japan. The paint inhibits the growth of bacteria and protects the train from damage.
The popular English name bullet train is a literal translation of the Japanese term
dangan ressha. These trains are a network of high-speed railway lines in Japan operated by four Japan Railways Group companies. The maximum operating speed is 320 km/h (200 mph) (on a 387.5 km section of the Tōhoku Shinkansen). The trains can, however, be prone to damage and weathering. They can also be affected long-term by microbial damage.
Using an artificial protein that contains metal, researchers at Nagoya University in Japan have been able to inhibit the growth of a pathogenic bacterium prevalent in hospitals.
Professor Yoshihito Watanabe, Associate Professor Osami Shoji, Chikako Shirataki of Nagoya University and their team have found a new method using an artificial metalloprotein (a protein that contains a metal) to inhibit the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria.
The artificial material is phthalocyanine, which is found in a blue paint used on the surface of road signs. Phthalocyanine is an intensely blue-green-coloured aromatic macrocyclic compound that is widely used in dyeing. The paint can potentially be used to protect high speed bullet trains and used in hospitals to prevent the spread of infectious agents.
The study has been published online in the Angewandte Chemie International Edition. The paper is titled “Inhibition of Heme Uptake in Pseudomonas aeruginosa by its Hemophore (HasAp) Bound to Synthetic Metal Complexes.”
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