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Titanium dioxide

Last week that giant multinational of aluminum production Alcoa announced its new "smog-eating" architectural panels - in other words cladding stuck to a building's exterior that can remove pollutants from the surrounding air. The aluminum panels, branded Reynobond with EcoClean technology, have a titanium dioxide coating which breaks down pollutants in direct sunlight. Read More
Research scientist Andreas Mershin has a dream to bring inexpensive solar power to the masses, especially those in developing countries. After years of research, he and his team at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, along with University of Tennessee biochemist Barry Bruce, have worked out a process that extracts functional photosynthetic molecules from common yard and agricultural waste. If all goes well, in a few years it should be possible to gather up a pile of grass clippings, mix it with a blend of cheap chemicals, paint it on your roof and begin producing electricity. Talk about redefining green power plants! Read More
A team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana is reporting the creation of a "solar paint" that could mark an important milestone on the road to widespread implementation of renewable energy technology. Although the new material is still a long way off the conversion efficiencies of commercial silicon solar cells, the researchers say it is cheap to make and can be produced in large quantities. Read More
For some time now, we’ve been hearing about the benefits of drying our laundry outside on the clothesline. We save money and energy by not running the dryer, the sunlight kills germs, and we don’t run the risk of generating harmful dryer emissions. In the future, however, we might also end up washing our clothes by hanging them outside – scientists in China have successfully used sunlight to remove orange dye stains from cotton fabric, that was treated with a special coating. Read More
Last month, we told you about an experiment with air-purifying concrete that was recently conducted in the Netherlands. Researchers resurfaced 1,000 square meters of a busy road with concrete paving stones that contained titanium dioxide (TiO2), a photocatalytic material that removes automobile-produced nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the air and converts them into nitrate with the aid of sunlight. When the air was tested up to one-and-a-half meters above those stones, NOx levels were found to be 25 to 45 percent lower than above regular concrete on the same road. Now, a similar study is underway in Germany, and is already showing promising results. Read More
Just as an examination of the burrs of seeds that kept sticking to his clothes led Swiss engineer, George de Mestral, to develop Velcro, a search for an explanation as to why the ivy in his backyard clung to this fence so tightly has led Mingjun Zhnag to a new discovery. It seems that tiny particles secreted from ivy rootlets could have applications for military technologies, medical adhesives, drug delivery and, most recently, sun-block that could protect skin from UV radiation at least four times better than the metal-based sunblocks found on store shelves today. Read More
Researchers from University of Minnesota have removed a barrier to improving solar cell efficiency by showing how heat energy currently lost from semiconductors can be captured and transferred to electric circuits. They hope manufacturers will use the results to produce solar cells with twice the output of current solar cells and at a lower cost. Read More
Although much of the focus of pollution from automobiles centers on carbon emissions, there are other airborne nasties spewing from the tailpipes of fossil fuel-powered vehicles. These include nitrogen oxides (NOx). In the form of nitrogen dioxide it reacts with chemicals produced by sunlight to form nitric acid – a major constituent of acid rain – and also reacts with sunlight, leading to the formation of ozone and smog. Everyone is exposed to small amounts of nitrogen oxides in ambient air, but exposure to higher amounts, in areas of heavy traffic for example, can damage respiratory airways. Testing has shown that surfacing roads with air purifying concrete could make a big contribution to local air purity by reducing the concentration of nitrogen oxides by 25 to 45 percent. Read More
People may joke about someone having a steel plate in their head, but in the case of punctures to the skull, that often ends up actually being the case - the hole in the bone is plugged with a permanent titanium-based patch. Researchers from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology, however, have just announced the development of biodegradable patches that stimulate the skull into healing itself. As the bone grows back in, the patches disappear. Read More
We talk a lot about the wonders of nanotechnology here at Gizmag. After all it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement surround the technology when it promises to revolutionize practically every area of human endeavor. Among its long list of anticipated benefits are new medical treatments; stronger, lighter materials; improved energy production, storage and transmission; and more effective pollution monitoring and prevention, just to name a few. But nanotechnology is not just something set to come about in some far off future – it is happening now. In fact, the odds are there is a product either containing, or made using nanoparticles sitting in your house right now. But the big question is, are they safe? Read More
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