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During these unprecedented times, researchers are scrambling to find ways to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. One particularly promising solution is a new paint called Airlite, which has been shown to neutralize coronaviruses effectively. In addition to being anti-viral, Airlite is an air purification technology that deactivates bacteria and airborne pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx).
Although viruses do not increase on non-living surfaces, the latest scientific studies indicate that coronaviruses continue to live on all kinds of surfaces for at least a few hours. Fortunately, coronavirus deactivation is relatively easy to achieve with ethanol-, hydrogen peroxide- or sodium hypochlorite-based cleaners. These sanitizers break down the protective envelope around the virus, destroying the viral unit. However, it is almost impossible to cover surfaces with sanitizer at all times, and once sanitizer on a surface has been wiped away, it could quickly become contaminated again.
Surface Coatings for Coronavirus Deactivation
To address this challenge, researchers have been looking into surface coatings capable of coronavirus deactivation and neutralizing other pathogens.
According to Airlite maker, AM Technology Ltd., chemicals within the paint use ambient light and moisture to form an ion-based barrier that breaks down bacteria and viruses, similar to how soap breaks down these pathogens by dissolving their protective exterior membranes.
On its website, AM Technology states that Airlite suppresses the growth of mold and microbes that may cause skin irritation, headaches, exhaustion, respiratory problems, and allergic reactions. The company explains that Airlite breaks down odor molecules, potentially lowering the need for air filters and deodorants, and their associated upkeep and waste.
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Self-Cleaning and Eco-Friendly Air Purification Coatings
In addition to being an air purification technology, Airlite is also self-cleaning and energy-saving. The paint draws in airborne water molecules to produce a microscopic, protective layer on a wall or other surface. It can also keep off dust and dirt and dramatically cut down on solar heat absorbed by a building’s exterior. This latter effect can lower air-conditioning costs by as much as 30% and reduce the associated carbon dioxide emissions known to fuel climate change.
Airlite’s air purification technology is available in 180 colors and comes in interior, exterior and primer paints.
The interior paints have been specifically formulated to reduce odor and resist wear and fading. The exterior paints are capable of lowering cooling costs and protecting mineral-based exterior building surfaces. The primer paints can prepare a range of surfaces, including sheet metal, cement, tiles, plasterboard, and gypsum.
AM Technology said it would soon be making industrial-grade paints available.
Promising Test Results
While the effectiveness of Airlite against COVID-19 is still being determined, study data shows the air purifications technology’s effectiveness against some common airborne viruses and bacteria.
Researchers from the University College London tested the effectiveness of Airlite against the NL63 coronavirus and found the air purification technology eliminated 99% of viral particles on its surface.
In tests conducted in Sapienza University of Rome, Airlite reduced surface bacteria by at least 97% after two hours. After four hours, Airlite eliminated 99.9% of bacteria. Tests at other laboratories confirmed these results.
Other Paint-Based Air Purification Solutions
Airlite is not the only paint-based air purification in development. Earlier this year, researchers from the Nova Surface-Care Centre in India announced the development of NANOVA HYGIENE+, an anti-microbial coating for fabrics, plastics, metals, and concretes. Researchers conducted an anti-viral test of NANOVA HYGIENE+ using a small non-enveloped RNA virus known as a bacteriophage. The outcome showed an anti-viral efficacy of 99.9% after two hours of contact with a treated surface.
The key active factors in NANOVA HYGIENE include non-migratory Quaternary ammonium cations (QUATs) and positively charged silver nanoparticles (AgNPs), restricting the duplication of virus nucleotides, the predominant system of virulence in COVID-19. These factors bind to sulfur, oxygen, nitrogen and other key electron donor groups commonly seen in target pathogens. This binding leads to the enzymes' denaturing, rendering the microbe's energy source ineffective and causing it to die.
Researchers behind the study speculated that QUATs might inactivate COVID-19 by denaturing the exterior spike protein it uses to enter a host cell. The researchers said this speculation is based on observations of viruses, including HIV and hepatitis viruses.
Another study conducted at the University of Arizona tested SurfaceWise2, a polymer surface coating from Allied BioScience. The coating reduced human coronavirus concentration 229E by more than 90% after 10 minutes and by more than 99.9% after two hours.
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References and Further Reading
AM Technology Ltd. Airlite Eliminates Human Coronavirus from Surfaces After Only 15 Minutes. pressat. [Online] Available at: https://pressat.co.uk/releases/airlite-eliminates-human-coronavirus-from-surfaces-after-only-15-minutes-bd1c9cb3e29ce66469d6bc69162443f0/
AM Technology Ltd. Airlite Overview. [Online] Available at: https://airlite.com/
AM Technology Ltd. Airlite and COVID-19. [Online] Available at: https://airlite.com/
Randall, I. 'Air-purifying paint' that absorbs pollutants and odours and will be sold in the UK next year from just £30 a can is found to kill a strain of coronavirus in under 15 minutes. Mail Online. [Online] Available at: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-8835727/COVID-19-Air-purifying-paint-kill-related-strain-coronavirus-15-minutes.html
Ghosh, Swapan K. Anti-Viral Surface Coating to Prevent Spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Through Touch. Coatings World. [Online] Available at: https://www.coatingsworld.com/content-microsite/cw_covid-19/2020-04-15/anti-viral-surface-coating-to-prevent-spread-of-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-through-touch
Ikner, L. et al. A Continuously Active Antimicrobial Coating effective against Human Coronavirus 229E. medRxiv. [Online] Available at: https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.10.20097329v1