Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) found in traditional paint products can be as bad for human health as car emissions. Now the AIRLITE project has developed a natural paint product with the help of EU funds. Their paint uses nanoparticles instead of toxic chemicals that break down VOCs and airborne pollutants while also repelling bacteria, viruses and mould spores. AIRLITE paint is: “the only product of its kind in the world that is natural and addresses these problems. It is not just a paint but an air purification technology,” says Mr Arun Jayadev, co-founder of AIRLIGHT, the company behind the project. “It is a disruptive technology that is bringing fundamental change to the paint industry,” he adds. The paint uses materials based on titanium dioxide nanoparticles which are activated by light and interact with humidity in the air to catalytically produce special ions – hydroxy radicals – generally known as the 'detergents of nature’. These radicals can break down toxic particles in the air like nitrogen oxide (NOx) which cause inflammation of the airways. The nanoparticle-based technology reduces airborne pollutants by 89 % and eliminates 99.9 % of bacteria and viruses from treated surfaces, as well as repelling dirt and mould spores. The paint’s ability to reflect heat from sunlight also reduces energy consumption costs associated with cooling during hot weather by up to 29 %. “All you need is light and humidity to create these radicals. AIRLITE is a paint, however its composition has nothing in common with regular paint,” Mr Jayadev says. “This ensures AIRLITE’s properties last for a period of 10 years or more.” It is also practical to use. “The paint comes as a powder. So you don’t ship a lot of liquid around. You mix it with water and then apply it like any other paint with a brush or a roller.” Enhanced properties With EU funding, the project researchers were able to enhance the paint’s properties working with universities and research institutions that specialise in nanomaterials or inorganic molecules. They also tested it thoroughly to ensure the groundbreaking claims for the product were accepted by accreditation bodies. “The first challenge was not to have any of the toxic substances that are used in paints in the first place, and for that we achieved a cradle-to-cradle gold certification for which one analyses not just toxicity but also the life-cycle environmental impact of a product,” Mr Jayadev explains. “There are regulations now to reduce the quantity of VOCs in the paint,” he says. “Normally a newly applied paint releases VOCs as smell, and that is carcinogenic, but inherently in AIRLITE paint there are absolutely no VOCs.” While there are public concerns about nanoparticles being harmful, Mr Jayadev explains the titanium dioxide nanoparticles within AIRLITE are not exposed as they are embedded within the paint. During the project, the production process was streamlined, scaled up and the paint was marketed. AIRLITE has already been used in hospitals, schools, airports, offices and homes across the world. Within Europe, AIRLITE is now available in Spain, Italy, Portugal and the United Kingdom. “We will scale to the rest of the EU,” Mr Jayadev says, adding it has also completed the difficult process of being certified in China. “We now have our sights on the United States market,” he says.
AIRLITE, construction, paint, nanotechnology, pollution, antibacterial, viruses, mould, toxicity