- The power of the sun holds a lot of secrets, one of which was just recently discovered.
- Sunlight can now be used for cleaning objects and surfaces like building facades or cars.
- It can also be used to clear the air of pollutants.
- The technology utilizes a special substance called titanium dioxide (TiO2).
- However, it is not quite ready yet for public use.
Solar power already has a lot of good uses especially for a lot of different types of people. For the most part, they provide cleaner and more affordable electricity for everyone. However, they also help alleviate our reliance on dangerous and harmful fossil fuels which can cause pollution and global warming.
Beyond electricity, a new use for solar power may have been found just recently. They can actually be used for cleaning things! Particularly surfaces and water too, so just imagine the applications of such a thing. Of course, the technology is still in development at best and has yet to be made available for public use. Still, it can be quite interesting to see just how solar power can change the way we clean things.
The sun can clean
Sunbeams are one of the things which come to mind when such technology is concerned. Like solar panels, when harnessed correctly, sunbeams can be quite a useful tool for cleaning. The exact process which the technology utilizes is called photocatalysis and they can be used to clean building facades and decompose pollutants from the air or in the water.
Like solar panels too, they also depend on a lot of other factors– mostly environmental, hence, their efficiency can vary. Since it relies on solar power too, then photocatalysis theoretically has its cleaning efficiency tied to how much sunlight the device or technology for it can receive. Then, other factors are also concerned such as the material being cleaned or what type of dirt of filth is being cleaned.
High environmental impact
The thing is, photocatalysis certainly has a lot more useful than just for cleaning. Just like solar panels, they also provide an alternative means for human beings compared to traditional harmful chemicals and resources. Of course, global warming has many proponents, not just carbon dioxide (CO2) from smoke and pollution.
Nitrogen oxide also has a hand in aggravating global warming and these can come from diesel and car fuel. Photocatalysis can then be applied to car surfaces in order to clean the air in passing! So theoretically, cars which cause pollution can also take away some of it if they were to utilize photocatalysis.
As for other structures or engineering marvels that can take advantage of photocatalysis, buildings would benefit greatly from them. In one hand, the surfaces of tall buildings can be quite hard to clean, so utilizing photocatalysis on such surfaces means they can practically clean themselves. On the other hand, this eliminates the need for spray cleaning materials or other chemical paints used to keep the buildings clean.
How it works
It is a lot more simple than solar panels, it seems. Though existing buildings might not be able to afford to employ it to their structures. For photocatalysis to be able to clean surfaces and the air, it needs a certain catalyst named titanium dioxide (TiO2). Of course, TiO2 has profound effects when combined with sunlight and oxygen.
These components blend in together to form the process of photocatalysis. The TiO2 forms reactive substances which can decrease dirt and pollutants. The thing is, almost every material can be upgraded with TiO2 whether it is concrete, glass, or facade paint. Cars would certainly benefit from such a substance.
There are some certain drawbacks to it after all the technology is not yet mature. The TiO2 gets eroded once it cleans the surface and mixes into the materials it cleaned. Therefore, it will not be as effective in prolonged use. It may also need to be reapplied. So despite how amazing the technology is, it might take a while before it is available for public use.
Still, this is one more useful function for solar power and sunlight. The future is certainly looking bright as humanity further discovers the secrets of the sun. Such a substance would also be very useful when incorporated with solar panels and such a prospect can be interesting, especially when lowering maintenance costs is one of the goals.