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News Science

Self-Cleaning Glass 267

Chris writes "Consumers across Europe can now purchase self-cleaning glass that promises to keep windows free from dirt. The key to Activ glass is an ultra-thin coating only 40nm thick applied to the glass surface during the manufacturing process. The coating, which is based on titanium dioxide, works by combining the two beneficial effects. First, the ultraviolet wavelengths in sunlight react with a photocatalyst to break down organic debris on the glass. The second feature is that the coating is hydrophilic, meaning that when rain hits the glass, it doesn't form droplets. Rain water flows down the glass in a sheet and washes the dirt away."
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Self-Cleaning Glass

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  • by DrLudicrous ( 607375 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @09:26AM (#4288138) Homepage
    When are they going to make my plates and cups self-cleaning too?
  • Thats handy (Score:4, Funny)

    by gowen ( 141411 ) <> on Thursday September 19, 2002 @09:27AM (#4288140) Homepage Journal
    ... but last night I swear they were serving my beer in a self-emptying glass, and that was much less convenient. This morning, my hangover suggests that I may have been helping out.
  • Perma-Rain-X ? and what is to keep a bird or your pet animal from scratching this coating from the glass
  • Now... (Score:2, Funny)

    by s.a.m ( 92412 )
    If they would only do something for the *inside* that way I don't have to clean those as well!
  • by rimmon ( 608966 )
    whenever I clean my windows, my utility bill is lowered by two thirds since I can switch of all these lights during daytime :-)...
    darn that street and all that dust :-)
  • This glass was announced at least a year ago. I'll try to find the source, I'll post it if I run across it.
    • It's at least a year, there used to be ads about it here (Ireland) on tv... can't remember how long ago exactly.
    • Saw this demo'ed at this year's builder's show in Atlanta (?) via a program on HGTV [].
    • Did you read the article? "...having cracked the mystery last year, the company initially launched the product in Ireland, Austria and the US. Today, the bandwagon has rolled into the UK en-route across Europe."
      So, the news if for People in the UK, Italy, etc.
      Seems simple enough to understand.

      - dave f.
  • by rppp01 ( 236599 )
    that promises to keep windows free from dirt.

    You call it dirt, I call it bugs. Whatever. If they can do that, then I might just have to reinstall when the next version comes out!

  • ...I thought that said "SELF-CLEANING CLASS", as if you Slashdot editors were trying to inform us that we (generally) don't have very good hygene and we may even need to go to school to learn to bathe properly.
  • Look out Turtle Wax! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BadElf ( 448282 )
    If this stuff works like they say, it would be a great finish coat for cars. Instead of b*tching about it raining right after you give your ride a bath, the rain would *be* the bath! And with much of the country under drought conditions, think of all the water that could be conserved by eliminating the need to wash cars.
  • In my own car, I've tried to take steps towards keeping the glass clean, from cleaning the interior with water-woolite to prevent chemicals in the PVC from rising and sticking to the glass, to waxing the windows on the outside so that rain just streaks away from your field of view in the rain (you should try it - you hardly need to turn on the windshield wipers in lighter rains).

    Problem is, all that work turns into upkeep, since it's far from permanent. Also, you still end up with spotting and streaking on the windshield from the wax being moved by the wipers.

    This sorta thing could cut down on my maintenance costs, so that's a good thing - now if they could put it on the paint, i'd mess myself.

    • to waxing the windows on the outside so that rain just streaks away from your field of view in the rain (you should try it - you hardly need to turn on the windshield wipers in lighter rains).

      You should really try Rain-X [] - it works the way you want it to and wipers do not pose a problem.
  • by charlie763 ( 529636 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @09:34AM (#4288197) Homepage
    Sounds like this would be good for Mars rovers and the like. One of the problems that we have with rovers is that the glass on the photo cells get dirty and degrades the power output of the cells. I know that it doesnt rain on Mars, but this glass and some wind might prevent the degredation from reaching beyond some critical value.
    • That's an excellent idea, but wouldn't the effectiveness of the self-cleaning material be lower given the fact that FAR less sunlight hits the ground of mars than here?
    • by Ford Fulkerson ( 223443 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @09:44AM (#4288266)
      Yeah, if the mars rover would be covered with organic debris. I think that would be bigger news than self cleaning glass though.
    • by Dr. Spork ( 142693 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @10:20AM (#4288503)
      Actually, this makes more sense for solar cells here on earth. People think that power generation with solar cells is free after you set them up, because they have no moving parts, etc. Actually though, it turns out that the most important reason why solar power is expensive in the long run is because somebody needs to periodically clean the damn solar cells. You might not think this is a big deal but when you consider the surface area of solar cells you would need to generate enough electricity to power a city, it really does become daunting.

      With this coating, maybe we could just plug 'em in and leave 'em alone. Well, that would be awesome--though I still think it wouldn't solve all the problems, and that the best way to go solar is to build collectors in space.

    • Sounds like this would be good for Mars rovers and the like. One of the problems that we have with rovers is that the glass on the photo cells get dirty and degrades the power output of the cells. I know that it doesnt rain on Mars, but this glass and some wind might prevent the degredation from reaching beyond some critical value.

      Why not just blast it with pressurized air periodically? The atmosphere on Mars is so thin that the pressure does not even have to be that great in the storage bottle(s).

      It would function similar to the air can that PC hardware specialists have around for use on keyboards. (Although some say that stuff makes it worse by blowing some junk tighter into the springs instead of out. Lot of boogers in my keyboard :-)

      Have little spray nozles on the probe like the water nozels on car hoods, except use air.
  • Esp after a few hours browsing for PORN!!

    (score -1 Redundant!)
  • > Consumers across Europe can now purchase self-cleaning glass that promises to keep windows free from dirt.

    Sorry, could not resist.
  • And somewhere out there, there's a Case Modder who just wet his pants.
  • by fruey ( 563914 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @09:37AM (#4288220) Homepage Journal
    In a statement today the Window Cleaner's Union said that this announcement is the beginning of the end.

    One cleaner was quoted as saying "as soon as everyone installs these Windows, the traditional squeegee and soap solutions which anyone can use will become extinct. These Windows will dominate the market, leaving only the poor and art-glass people to come up with truly community spirit based solutions with work for great glass cleaning engineers"

    Then the skyscraper windowcleaner lift corporation also came in on the act "we can't fit these 'scrapers with our traditional pulley systems any more... sales are plummeting"

    Cowboy Neal still manages to stain his new glass though.

  • Now if I could get that in my classes I'd be set, you have no idea how much stuff collects on them just from daily use (unless you wear glasses then you probably know how much stuff collects on them).
  • get the dirt of the window, then these will be pretty much useless in places like London and Amsterdam where the sun shines about three days a year.
  • Are the first two things I want to see this used on.
    Then I can see this used on car windows, computer monitors, and other glass surfaces.
  • I wonder if in this day and age, the Windex people will just sue them into oblivion or even better, buy it all up and never actually sell any.

    Of course if it does become available, I wonder if I can get my house made out of this stuff - I'd never have to clean again. Though I suppose I would still not be able to throw rocks. *grin*
  • or two months now I have pondered to clean my windows. Triumph, I say! I was right not to do it! I will just get this stuff instead! Being lazy has finally paid off!
  • It seems the real market for this will be in Tall Buildings, although the article didn't seem to mention that.

    I wonder what all those skyscrape window cleaners will do for work? I never understood how someone could just throw a rope over the edge of a building, and go down swinging back and forth cleaning the windows. Those moving platforms they have now at least look more stable, but with these new windows, those too might become obsolete.

    The problem seems to be that it would only "clean" the windows when it rains. What about windows that are posistioned where the rain won't ever hit them? I guess you could just hose them off...

  • Ok, cool, self cleaning windows.

    Best application for these will probably be cars.

    Question though, what happens if you get something non-organic on it... like spraypaint?

    • You wouldn't want this on your car windows. It would have the opposite effect that RainX produces. Visibility during rain would be very bad.
      • Ever seen what happens if you've got RainX on your car windows, and you run the squirters to clean the windshield? Apparently it reacts with the ammonia in the glass cleaner (maybe in conjunction with the plastic coating on some auto glass), and turns to a damnear opaque film instantly. What a mess!! (There have been a few lawsuits over this, tho I don't recall the outcome.)

        • Can't say as I've ever noticed this phenomena. I suspect it's urban legend.
          • The RainX vs windshield cleaner solution is not urban legend -- I know about it because it happened to MY vehicle, while I was driving it. I'd recently applied the stuff, and all seemed fine -- until I used the windshield washers. Instant disaster!!

      • The way I read it is that it makes water sheet, just like Rainx does...
        • RainX doesn't make the water sheet, it makes it bead up into very small beads. This is why you barely need your wipers in a moderate to heavy rain. If it made it sheet, you wouldn't be able to see a thing.
  • What are they going to do when it never rains inside the building? "Oops" goes the marketing department.
  • by HiQ ( 159108 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @09:56AM (#4288341)
    A few weeks ago I found out that there was a dead bird in my chimney (sp?). I only found out when there where hundreds of flies in my house, all covering the windows. All the shops were closed, so I couldn't buy a spraycan with which to kill all the flies. Openening the windows didn't do the trick so the only viable option left was to swat them. You should have seenm those windows after I was finished. Lots of organic debris on the glass, but there isn't a self-cleaning window in the world that could keep itself clean with a carnage like this.

  • I could use it on my car
  • by bad-badtz-maru ( 119524 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @09:56AM (#4288348) Homepage

    PPG is one of the largest manufacturers of residential windows and they have produced windows using the self-cleaning coating for several years now.

  • Now we just need some automatically reversible windows so we never have to wash them again.
  • by sh0rtie ( 455432 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @10:12AM (#4288425)

    According to Google [] there are over 1500 references to self cleaning glass, quite a few manufacters are already selling it, Pilkinton (uk glass company) and Sunclean seem to be the market leaders though Pilkington seem to claim "the worlds first". The BBC reported this [] technology in 2001, in 2002 Saint-Gobain Glass won a Siemens Award for innovation for their version [] [] [] []
    • by Reziac ( 43301 )
      I don't know about window glass, but Pyrex's glass bakingware has had a very effective nonstick coating for some years now. Dump out whatever you baked in it, and the dish is almost completely clean, needing only a bit of rinsing to get it squeaky-clean.

      The downside is, the nonstick surface scratches very easily, kinda like old-style teflon did.

  • Alternatively (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ed Avis ( 5917 )
    If glass or transparent plastic were a bit cheaper, you could just replace the windows and not need to clean them.

    How about a thin plastic film which you spray onto the glass and just peel off when it gets dirty?
    • Probably be fine if your window guy was a bird [g] or the world only had single-story buildings!!

    • Sounds like a hell of a lot more work than just squeegee-ing the glass occasionally.
    • How exactly would these two ideas be any easier than just CLEANING THE FUCKING WINDOWS?!
    • I'm at a total loss. I can't decide which I'm more flabbergasted by:
      1. The evil fscking throwaway mentality expressed in this post. Twice.
      2. That spraying a film of plastic might somehow be better than just cleaning the damn window!
      3. That someone modded this post up.
      4. That the userid of this post is a full two orders of magnitude lower than I'd expect, given the content.
        The Dilbert Principle lives... %-/
  • by msheppard ( 150231 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @10:17AM (#4288467) Homepage Journal
    One step closer to transparent aluminum.

    (Hello... Computer?)
  • by MicroBerto ( 91055 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @10:56AM (#4288820)
    With this stuff, we won't need any jizz-moppers anymore! Read on:

    Randal: [reading magazine] Have you ever wondered how much the average jizz-mopper makes per hour?
    Dante: What's a jizz-mopper?
    Randal: He's the guy that cleans up the nudie booth after each guy jerks off.
    Dante: Nudie booth?
    Randal: Yeah, nudie booth. You've never been in a nudie booth?
    Dante: I guess not.
    Randal: Oh, it's great. There's this glass wall between you and these chicks, and they put on a show for you for like 10 bucks.
    Dante: What kinda show? [customer walks up to counter]
    Randal: They do the weirdest, craziest shit you like to see chicks do. They insert things into any opening on their body-ANY opening.
    Dante: Could we not talk about this now?
    Randal: The jizz-mopper's job is to clean off the glass after each guy shoots a load. I don't know if you noticed, but cum leaves streaks if you don't clean it right away.
    Customer: I will never come to this place again!
    Dante: I'm sorry? [I could have sworn he says 'excuse me']
    Customer: Using filthy language in front of the customers, you both should be fired.
    Dante: I'm sorry, I guess we got carried away.
    Customer: I don't know if sorry could make up for it, you've highly offended me.
    Randal:Well, if you think that's offensive, check this out! [shows him graphic picture from porn mag] I think you can see her kidneys!
    Customer: Aaaaargh!

    One extra insight -- what does the customer bring up to the counter?? You guessed it! Paper towels and glass cleaner! Hahaha, what an incredible movie
  • by j-turkey ( 187775 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @10:59AM (#4288841) Homepage

    Is this slated for use in car windshields? If so, I wonder how this will affect the detection range of radar detectors.

    A few years ago, there was a study of cars with windshields that use certain tinting and weatherproofing that (incadently) reduces the efficency of radar detectors, cutting detection range from 60-80%. There's some info on it here [], and a bit more info here [].

    • Well, Pilkington does make auto glass -- my new Mitsubishi Diamante has their glass. My guess is that if some European/Asian automaker asks for it, they'll do it if it's technogically feasible (i.e. can it meet safety regs).

      Interesting point about radar detectors -- I tend not to use one, since there's not a lot of speed limit enforcement around Atlanta, and the few municipalities that aggressively enforce speed laws tend to use laser rather than radar.
  • Can we (Score:4, Funny)

    by dubiousmike ( 558126 ) on Thursday September 19, 2002 @11:05AM (#4288892) Homepage Journal
    coat my 16 month old son with this? He gets dirty within 30 seconds of coming out of the bath.

    Please make sure to leave air and sight holes. ;-]

  • This has been available in the US for a while.

    I've been pricing new windows for my house, and the self-cleaning stuff is an (expensive) upgrade.
  • I was wondering if something similar could not be done for grafitti. You spray a thin coat over a given street sign, for example.

    When the "artist" fouls it, you spray on a chemical that dissolves the coating, and the grafitti then flows off with the dissolved coat.

    Then hose it down and put on a fresh coat again.
  • This was announced last year here []
  • US homes are usually constructed by companies just for selling them, or by people who don't expect to live in them for more than a decade. That means that they usually cut a lot of corners: the quality of the materials may be good (though often it is not), but any frill gets cut.

    Europeans often still build homes for themselves and expect to live in them for a lifetime or generations. Then, it makes sense to pay for extra conveniences.

  • Now LA just needs to convert all their street signs to glass. It might be cheaper than barb wire.

  • It would be really interesting to have self cleaning monitors. Everyone seems to forget to clean the fingerprint and sneeze crud off of them. Of course, there are no windows anywhere near my cubicle, so glass that uses UV to break down grime is out of the question.

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva