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This High-Tech Spray Eats Smog, Turns Surfaces Into Self-Cleaning Germ-Killers


Good news for people who hate to clean: Futuristic clean-freak nanoparticles are making elbow grease obsolete.

The wonders of technology have spurred the creation of cars, windows, walls, even entire buildings that clean themselves. Some can purify the air around them, guzzling smog and other nasty pollutants like it’s nothing while they simultaneously nuke grunge, grime, mold and microbes. No soap or scrubbing required.

PURETi, a clear commercial spray-on coating, does all of that, plus it kills nasty human and pet odors. How? By leveraging the awesome photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide, a common chemical compound found in paint, sunscreen and tattoo pigment.

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Here’s how it works: First the non-flammable commercial coating -- comprised of 99 percent water and one percent titanium oxide nanoparticles (TiO2) -- is electrostatically sprayed onto almost any UV-lighted surface (concrete, glass, metal, stone, plastic, paint, etc.). It dries in seconds and cures in 24 to 36 hours into a rigid, translucent, inorganic, super-slippery mineral shell that’s only 40 nanometers thin. We’re talking 1/25,000 thinner than a standard business card, if you can imagine that.

Here’s where Mother Nature’s magic comes in. When UV light (from the sun or fluorescent light bulbs) hits a PURETi-shellacked surface, it triggers a natural process called ultraviolet photocatalysis. The opposite of photosynthesis, photocatalysis uses light energy to energize the titanium dioxide within PURETi. The compound then interacts with water molecules in the air, spawning free radicals that gobble up harmful, contaminating materials and air pollutants.

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Is your head spinning from all that science? No worries. Translated, it means PURETi perpetually purifies whatever it touches and the air around it, purely because of a chemical reaction between sunlight and the active ingredient in Zinka, the stuff surfers smear on their noses to avoid sunburn.

For a more detailed look at PURETi, check out this video:

The rock-hard coating should last for up to five years for exterior applications and three years for interior, according to its New York City-based maker PURETi Group LLC. The company claims PURETi, is good for the Earth, saving water that would otherwise be used washing surfaces, and reducing harmful greenhouse gases, like methane and nitrogen oxide. It can also help reduce volatile organic compounds emitted by carpets, paints, upholstery and dozens of other man-made sources, the company says.

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If you think PURETi sounds a little out of this world, you’re on the right track. NASA recently announced that it partnered with PURETi to explore photocatalytic technologies to keep the International Space Station and other structures clean. Because, ew, germs are even more gross in space.  

Some of the more practical, down-to-Earth applications for PURETi include roadways, where it can munch smog, along with interiors and exteriors of buildings like airports, hospitals, hotels, offices, schools, stadiums and any other place we dirty, stinky, polluting humans muck up in droves.

What crazy apps and gadgets have you come across lately? Let us know by emailing us at or by telling us in the comments below.

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Kim Lachance Shandrow

Written By

Kim Lachance Shandrow is the former West Coast editor at Previously, she was a commerce columnist at Los Angeles CityBeat, a news producer at MSNBC and KNBC in Los Angeles and a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times. She has also written for Government Technology magazine, LA Yoga magazine, the Lowell Sun newspaper,, and the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. C. Everett Coop. Follow her on Twitter at @Lashandrow. You can also follow her on Facebook here