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Aluminium cladding cleans itself, and the air

Architects can now create quality facades that will last a long time

EcoClean is a light-sensitive titanium dioxide coating.
EcoClean is a light-sensitive titanium dioxide coating.

Alcoa Architectural Products of France has launched a new aluminium cladding panel that cleans both itself and the surrounding air.

“These cladding features mean the building is no longer just a structure,” explained Guy Scheidecker, marketing and distribution manager for Alcoa Architectural Products.

“Architects can create a quality appearance that will last for a long time.” In addition, cleaning costs are reduced over a building’s lifetime," said Scheidecker.

On the other hand, manufacture is slightly more involved, but this has only a minimal impact on the overall price. Depending on the type of cladding system, Alcoa assesses the increase in price as between 1.5% and 5%.

There is no increase in effort or time for processing and installation specialists, however. The new cladding is just as easy to process and fit as traditional cladding products.

There is also the added benefit of air-cleaning: 1,000m2 of this cladding with EcoClean disperses as much smog as about 80 trees. This is equivalent to the daily emissions of four cars.

EcoClean is a light-sensitive titanium dioxide coating that acts as a catalyst, even in conditions of low humidity. On the surface, the electrons released by the UV light form radicals, and these break down organic substances such as bird lime, moss, exhaust fumes and smog particles.

At the same time a super-hydrophilic (water-attracting) and extremely smooth surface is formed. Even with just small amounts of rain or dew, the substances that have been broken down simply slide off the building, leaving a clean façade behind.

For four years, researchers at the US parent group Alcoa have been working on transferring the titanium dioxide-based Hydrotect technology of the Japanese firm Toto to coated aluminium.

Up until now, titanium dioxide could only be applied to specific surfaces such as concrete, glass, plastic and ceramic, as it attacks all organic matter, including finishing coatings.

The method developed by Alcoa, however, for which a patent is pending, prevents destruction of the finish coat, and allows titanium dioxide to be applied to Reynobond aluminium composite panels and Reynolux aluminium sheet.

Alcoa Architectural Products of Merxheim, France is a subsidiary of Alcoa. It employs 59,000 people in 31 different countries, and produces and sells products ranging from composite panels to household foil.

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Construction Week - Issue 725
Jan 19, 2019