Outdoor furniture left soaking in the heavy rain, ends up covered with dust and dirt. Removing the traces of bad weather is a long and tiring process. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart have come up with a strange solution, quite smart though. Furniture can clean itself, when the sunlight comes out of the clouds again.
Plastic surfaces can be treated with titanium dioxide that reacts with UV rays and leads to chemical reaction initiating the cleaning process. The reaction is electrochemical and is antibacterial – titanium dioxide is antiseptic killing all bacteria, fungi, algae thanks to sunlight.
Researchers tested the new coating on surfaces with bacterial cultures applied on. Self-cleaning surfaces were left outdoors for 2 years. Then when compared to regular non-special coated surfaces, it turned out that the photo-catalytic plastic furniture was almost immaculate. The ordinary plastic furniture was heavily stained almost uncleanable.
The new sunlight activated coating can be used on various surfaces, even on smartphone screens, removing oily marks and fingerprints. When applied on glass wear, it needs 1 hour of direct sunlight to be activated.
The team is now working on titanium dioxide coating that can be applied indoors, activated by artificial light.