Medicinal/HygienicAs important as silver is becoming as a power source, that usage of silver is destined to be eclipsed by the consumption of silver due to another one of its superior properties: as an antibacterial agent. I have stressed this particular, new explosion in demand on a number of previous occasions, most recently in "Silver Upholstery the Newest Source of Demand."
The number of potential applications in this area is nearly infinite, thus the uses listed comprise only a small sample of silver's potential in this area. It's antibacterial uses can be divided into hygiene-based applications along with genuine "medical" applications.
In the former category, the first use of silver on a massive commercial level has been to use silver in clothing. It is used in socks and other military-issue clothing because its anti-bacterial properties retard the development of bacterial infection -- eliminating a hygiene problem that has plagued armies for thousands of years.
However, because it is bacteria which is the source of human odor from perspiration, the use of silver in sportswear has exploded into one of the largest single applications of silver. This one usage already consumes more than 1,200 tons of silver per year -- used in the manufacturing of 50 million tons of polyester sportswear (annually), alone.Once again, current consumption of silver for this usage is merely beginning. In the world's largest commercial-materials trade show, a fabric-maker called CF Stinson just won the 2009 "Gold Award for Healthcare Fabrics" for producing the world's first commercially available silver upholstery. The potential usage in this one category of silver consumption is nothing short of mind-boggling. Obviously, every hospital will at least consider the cost/benefits of using silver upholstery in all of its furnishings - given that the spread of (antibiotic resistant) bacterial infections in hospitals is one of the most serious health issues in the world's hospitals. Data from the U.K. shows that 300,000 hospital patients/visitors/workers currently develop bacterial infections from those hospitals each year. Worse, the biggest aspect of this problem is in the spreading of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains, most-notably MRSA ("methicillin-resistant staphylococcus"). This rapidly growing problem is expected to result in 5,000 deaths per year. Putting aside the human consequences, legal liability from all those hospital-based infections could threaten the solvency of medical systems all over the world -- now that science has unlocked the power of silver to win a battle against "bugs," which was already lost using antibiotics.