Gdańsk researchers develop hybrid paint that protects against pathogens

Doctoral candidate Izabela Malinowska and Dr. Anna Zielińska-Jurek. Credit: Krzysztof Krzempek / Gdańsk University of Technology
Doctoral candidate Izabela Malinowska and Dr. Anna Zielińska-Jurek. Credit: Krzysztof Krzempek / Gdańsk University of Technology

Gdańsk researchers have developed a paint and plaster with self-cleaning and biocidal properties.

The new building materials were developed by Izabela Malinowska, a doctoral candidate at the Department of Process Engineering and Chemical Technology at the Faculty of Chemistry, Gdańsk University of Technology, under the supervision of Dr. Anna Zielińska-Jurek, a professor at  Gdańsk University of Technology.

The paint developed fights bacteria, removes stains and removes harmful compounds from air in the room. In addition, it can replace a magnetic board. How does the self-cleaning effect of the paint work? According to the university's website, in contact with contamination, the paint's photocatalytic additive 'breaks down dirt, greasy stains and destroys pathogens'.

According to the inventors, applying their paint on the walls can ensure the purification of air from volatile organic pollutants or NOx - harmful nitrogen oxides formed, for example, as a result of burning fuels.

Izabela Malinowska said: “The presence of zinc compounds in the composite structure creates such a strong biological barrier that pathogens do not develop on the surface, and the strains of hospital bacteria present on it are destroyed in a short time. The tests were carried out on gram-positive (e.g., Staphylococcus aureus) and gram-negative (e.g., Escherichia coli) strains.”

Artificial lighting activates the self-cleaning properties of the paint. 'Biological protection will be active even when the light is turned off', the scientists believe. Dr. Anna Zielińska-Jurek explained that “most of the currently available products are based on titanium dioxide, which is active only under ultraviolet radiation, and solar radiation and interior lighting are able to activate these functions only to a small extent.”

Due to its magnetic properties, the paint can also be used as a magnetic board.

To complement the paint, researchers have also developed a plaster. 

The scientists said: “Covering the wall with both plaster and paint will create a biological protection of the building against the development of pathogenic microorganisms, protecting the health of the household members.”

According to Dr. Zielińska-Jurek, there is currently no product on the market that will have self-cleaning, biocidal and magnetic properties at the same time. The invention can help increase the functionality of coatings, especially in public buildings, such as hospitals, clinics, schools, conference rooms, playrooms, restaurants.

The paint can be used on various surfaces - not only walls, but also wood, metal and plastic. According to the inventor, if, for example, the handles or elevator buttons are covered with the paint, viruses will not spread.

The paint is also safe for the environment as the biological compound used is a naturally occurring compound.

The method of obtaining the newly developed composite is a universal method so that the solution can be added at any stage of paint production and does not change the primary properties of paints and plasters.

The patent-protected invention was awarded a silver medal at the International Warsaw Invention Show (IWIS) 2022. Its inventor was awarded the main prize in the ECO-innovators 2022 competition in the doctoral candidate innovator category, and a special prize of the Marshal of the Świętokrzyskie Voivodeship in the Student Inventor competition.

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