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Smog-eating aluminium panels


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wjfox

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http://www.usatoday....-aluminum_n.htm


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Smog-eating aluminum panels launch for buildings

By Wendy Koch, USA TODAY

Buildings that eat smog? Alcoa, a maker of aluminum products, introduced an architectural panel Thursday that it says not only cleans itself but also the air around it.

The aluminum panel has a titanium dioxide coating that, when combined with sunlight, acts as a catalyst to break down pollutants such as smog into harmless matter that rain washes away.

"It could have a significant impact" if enough buildings use the product, says Craig Belnap, president of Alcoa Architectural Products. The company says 10,000 square feet of its panels have the air-cleansing power of about 80 trees.

The panel is the latest in a series of building products — whether cement, tile or paint — touted for their pollution-fighting abilities:

•Ceiling tiles that remove formaldehyde, which is linked to health problems, were announced this week by Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Systems, which says the product has been certified by UL, an independent non-profit testing group.

•The Ionic Bulb by Florida-based Zevotek, now available in stores nationwide, is an energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamp that contains an air purifier to eliminate allergens, pollen, smoke and dust.

"All such claims should be approached with caution" and validated by independent academic labs, warns Martin Holladay, senior editor of GreenBuildingAdvisor.com, a website that covers sustainable construction.

The coating on Alcoa's panels has long been used on concrete such as the TX Active product — with proven results.

Such concrete reduced nitrogen oxides — the smog-causing compound emitted by vehicles — 25% to 45% in a small area of a Dutch town where it was used on roads, according to a lecture last year by Jos Brouwers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.

"It does work," says Nadav Malin, president of BuildingGreen.com, an online source of eco-friendly construction. "But you'd have to have a lot of this out there in the built environment to make any dent in air pollution."

"It could be part of a solution," says Alcoa's Belnap, adding that the Reynobond panels also lower maintenance costs for commercial buildings by reducing water and dirt. He says Alcoa teamed with Japanese manufacturer TOTO to add the EcoClean coating and had its air-purifying impact verified by an independent lab.

The panels will cost about 5% more than similar aluminum ones and will become available nationwide this summer.




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