Titanium Dioxide - How it Works (introduction to photocatalytic coatings)

UV-PCO (ultraviolet photocatalytic oxidation) technology was discovered over thirty years ago in Japan and is broadly described as the opposite of photosynthesis. Photocatalysis is a completely natural process in which light-either sunlight or artificial indoor light-- hits a mineral and triggers a chemical reaction that breaks up or decomposes organic matter.

Sources of UV-A light include:

  • Sunlight - UV-A light is abundantly present in direct sunlight, more than enough to power the full self-cleaning effect of Titanium Dioxide Coatings applied to the outside of buildings, fixtures and vehicles.
  • Ambient Sunlight - On cloudy days, in the shade and in ambient sunlight through windows, there is also enough UV-A to trigger Titanium Dioxide Coatings's self-cleaning and odor-eliminating benefits.
  • Fluorescent Light - Fluorescent lamps provide enough UV-A to make Titanium Dioxide Coatings coated surfaces very effective in eliminating odors indoors and helping to control the build up of grime.

Photocatalytic TiO2 (titanium dioxide - a common and naturally occurring mineral safely used in paints and cosmetics) has been extensively studied and used (in Asia and Europe) for its beneficial effects in medical environments (to create self-sanitizing surfaces), as a valuable new tool in air and water treatment, as the key to producing self-cleaning windows and even in the production of smog-eating cement.

It is well documented that light energized, photocatalytic TiO2 is a safe, non-toxic, anti-oxidant that produces hydroxyl radicals (OH-) that are remarkably effective in rapidly decomposing organic matter, including bacteria, fungi, odors and nicotine. This chemical process of photocatalysis actually converts organic matter into the harmless elements of water and carbon dioxide, which are then released into the air but in such minute quantities that their conversion is unnoticeable. The air we breath is full of water molecules but at such minute levels that we are not conscious of their presence. Moreover, because the process is a "catalytic" one, the chemistry of catalytic reactions means that the "ingredients" triggering these results are never used up in the process. Therefore, once applied to the specified surface (whether hotel room walls, carpets, upholstery or other soft good surfaces in casino areas, or HVAC ducting), the Titanium Dioxide Coatings® products will continue to work, month after month.

The benefits of this TiO2 photocatalytic technology are so significant that this is the solution that Asian researchers turned to during the SARS epidemic. Research and actual hospital and medical usage of photocatalytic TiO2 in Asia accelerated greatly during that epidemic and it is this same technology that has been adapted by Titanium Dioxide Coatings® to completely and continuously eliminate the malodorous and harmful elements of cigarette and cigar smoke.

This photo, taken in 2005 at a toll booth in Japan, clearly demonstrates the grime preventing functionality of a photocatalytic coating.

Read more about our Application Process.

Did You Know?

Titanium Dioxide Coatings products can be applied to virtually any surface, including buildings, signs, solar panels, sidewalks, outdoor furniture, holding tanks, boats, and planes.

Annual Savings

"UVPCO air cleaner for gaseous contaminants may be beneficial for the large-scale treatment of air in occupied buildings and may ultimately allow for a 50% reduction of Outside Air supply in offices and other buildings as an energy conservation measure" according to a September 2005 report on UV PCO for Indoor Air Applications issued by the Indoor Environment Department of the E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

TiO2 is Safe

The European Science Commission on Cosmetics and Food Products has found TiO2 to be safe in all forms (micronized and nanosized, active and inactive) for human use and consumption.
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