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Innovation

Self-cleaning lawn furniture is here!

A group of scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have shown that when titanium dioxide-infused plastic is exposed to ultra violet light, it triggers a chemical reaction which can destroy bacteria, algae and fungi.
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Written by Amy Kraft, Weekend Editor on

Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to worry about cleaning all of the slime and algae off your lawn furniture before you use it in the summer? Fortunately, researchers may have come up with a way: Put titanium dioxide inside the plastic.

A group of scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have shown that when titanium dioxide-infused plastic is exposed to ultra violet light, it triggers a chemical reaction which can destroy bacteria, algae and fungi.

The Fraunhofer Institute explains how it works on their website:

"When these titanium dioxide molecules are ‘activated’ by the UV light in the sun’s rays, they act as a kind of catalyst, triggering an electrochemical reaction which produces free radicals. These and other active molecules strike a fatal blow to bacteria, fungi and similar organisms, first destroying the cell walls and then penetrating the cytoplasm – the substance that fills the cell – and damaging the bacteria’s DNA. As a result, the organic substances are destroyed instead of remaining stuck to the surface."

To see which organic elements the titanium dioxide-infused polymer can destroy, researchers tested the idea on a lawn chair that was coated with titanium dioxide and one that was not. Then they covered the chairs with bacteria and algae and left them outside. After two years, researchers observed that the untreated lawn chair had dirt that was impossible to remove and the treated lawn chair were clean and just like new.

Researchers also tested the effectiveness of the special coating on other surfaces including glass and walls.

PopSci reports:

"Beyond furniture, the coating is also effective at keeping glass free of fingerprints, which disappear after just an hour of exposure to sunlight. Picture exterior windows that clean themselves daily or smartphones that lose their smudges in sunlight."

Chemistry Finally Delivers Long-Promised Self-Cleaning Lawn Furniture  [PopSci]

Photo via flickr/daniel spils

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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