Friday, November 21, 2008

Self-cleaning coating can cut buildings' washing bills

Nov 21, 2008

By Amresh Gunasingham

A LOCAL company has started mass producing a special coating for outdoor paint that it says can automatically remove mildew and fungus.

Local paint distributor Haruna, in conjunction with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star), unveiled the film yesterday.

The coating, called photocatalytic titanium dioxide, is applied on top of paint and could save places such as shopping malls thousands of dollars a year in cleaning bills.

When exposed to ultraviolet rays from the sun, the film reacts with oxygen in the air to repel the mould, fungus and bacteria that normally cling to surfaces.

It also provides a protective layer against dust, dirt and exhaust fumes, allowing the grime to be easily washed away, said Haruna director Yukio Yanase.

The compound was developed by scientists from A*Star, who yesterday signed an agreement with Haruna to mass produce it locally.

Mr Lee Han Boon, vice-president of commercialisation at Exploit Technologies - the commercialisation arm of A*Star - said the film would be a boon for buildings here, especially expensive-to-clean skyscrapers.

Haruna has already had some success, selling the self-cleaning coating to Pacific Plaza in Scotts Road.

Titanium dioxide can reduce the frequency of washings, driving down the cost of building maintenance by up to $150,000 per year, said Mr Matthew Bey, chief executive of Vision Facade Solutions, the mall's building maintenance operator.

He said a one-time application of the coating can cost up to $25,000 more than conventional coating methods. But he said the 'long-term cost savings' make it a worthwhile investment.

The signing ceremony took place at A*Star's TechLicensing Fair on Energy and Environment yesterday. The fair, the third of its kind held this year, showcases intellectual property and emerging technology from A*Star and around the world.

[Comment: So are our journalists critical enough to ask questions like "Are there any potential health effects of titanium dioxide on humans, animals and the environment?"]

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