Deforestation has been a major cause of concern for environmentalists for a long time now. According to the findings of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “Globally, around 13 million hectares of forests were converted to other uses or lost through natural causes each year between 2000 and 2010.”
Trees perform vital functions such as water conservation, climate moderation, air purification, and wildlife preservation. But they are mercilessly felled each year to create paper as well as expand human settlements. This does not bode well for a world that is already in the throes of natural calamities brought about by global warming.
However, there is some good news in the offing. Alcoa Architectural Products has come up with EcoClean, which can turn a building into an eco-friendly edifice that cleans the air of smog, dirt, grease, and grime. Though, it may not be a replacement for afforestation, the company claims that, “10,000 square feet of EcoClean has the approximate cleansing power of 80 trees.”
How it works
Besides being the most abundant metal found in the Earth’s crust, aluminum also has useful properties. It is non-corrosive and has structural strength because of which it has found its applications in the construction of buildings, as a material for making aircrafts, and a host of other things. With EcoClean, aluminum has found its eco-friendly avatar.
EcoClean is a titanium dioxide (TiO2) coating which can be applied to the pre-painted surface of the Reynobond brand of building panels that are made of an aluminum composite material. What happens on exposing this aluminum surface to sunlight is nothing less than a scientific miracle.
The electrons of TiO2 react with sunlight and they transfer energy to the oxygen and water molecules in the air to form free radicals made up of negatively charged oxygen and hydroxyl radicals. What this results is in the formation of two radicals which can decompose organic matter such as dirt, grease, and grime that float in the air. This is how a building turns from an inert concrete object into an eco-friendly structure that cleans the impurities in the air.
It also makes the building clean itself
Along with eliminating dirt and grime from the air, EcoClean also cleans the air of smog. How does it do this? It’s the radicals once again that come into action. They convert the nitrogen oxide molecules (the primary component of smog) into harmless nitrates. The result is an environment with fresh and clean air.
Wait, there’s more. The EcoClean coating has another wonderful property. It is super hydrophilic, which literally translates to something that loves water. When it rains, the coating absorbs water and spreads it around. This makes the surface of the building absolutely sleek. Thus, all the grime and dirt stuck on the surface flows down with the rain water. This leaves the building looking as swank as a car that has just got a fresh coat of paint.
Now, that’s some technology which can make our concrete jungles more eco-friendly.