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Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 21:20 EDT

New Aluminum Panels Eat Smog

May 14, 2011

Aluminum product manufacturer Alcoa on Thursday launched its new architectural panel that it says will not only clean itself but will also clean the air around it.

Reynobond® with EcoCleanⓢ is the first coil-coated architectural panel created by merging breakthrough innovations in science and design from Alcoa and Japanese manufacturer TOTO®.

The aluminum panel has a titanium dioxide coating that, when combined with sunlight, breaks down pollutants such as smog into harmless matter that rain can wash away. Alcoa claims that 10,000 square feet of the new panel has the approximate air cleansing power of 80 trees.

“It could have a significant impact” if enough buildings use the product, said Craig Belnap, president of Alcoa Architectural Products.

Reynobond with EcoClean is just one of a series of new innovative building products touted for their pollution-fighting abilities.

Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Systems announced this week its release of ceiling tiles that remove formaldehyde. The company said the product has been certified by UL, an independent non-profit testing group.

And Florida-based Zevotek has released the Ionic Bulb, available in stores nationwide. Ionic Bulb is an energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamp that contains an air purifier to eliminate allergens, pollen, smoke and dust.

“All such claims should be approached with caution,” and validated by independent academic labs, warns Martin Holladay, senior editor of GreenBuildingAdvisor.com, a website that covers sustainable construction.

The technology behind Alcoa’s panels has long been used in concrete such as the TX Active product. Such concrete was found to reduce nitrogen oxides — the smog-causing compound emitted by vehicles — 25 to 45 percent in a small area of a Dutch town where it was used on roads, according to a lecture last year by Jos Brouwers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands.

“It does work,” says Nadav Malin, president of BuildingGreen.com, an online source of eco-friendly construction. “But you’d have to have a lot of this out there in the built environment to make any dent in air pollution.”

Belnap says it could also “be part of a solution.” He said that the Reynobond panels also lower maintenance costs for commercial buildings by reducing water and dirt.

Reynobond with EcoClean debuted at the AIA 2011 National Convention and Design Exposition on May 12 in New Orleans. The panels will cost about 5 percent more than similar aluminum ones wand will become available nationwide this summer.

“Alcoa is committed to innovating sustainable solutions for today and tomorrow,” Belnap told USA Today.

“That passion is a driving force behind our architectural business. Our R&D in science and technology is creating new ways for aluminum building products to meet green building standards””from the use of natural cleaning products like Reynobond with EcoClean, to advanced facade solutions that help reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption,” he said.

Last year, 80 billion square feet of commercial building space consumed nearly 20 percent of all energy in the US economy. Thanks to strategic investments in research and development, Alcoa is fueling sustainable solutions and mitigating environmental challenges facing the building and construction industry by bringing Reynobond with EcoClean to market.

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