The secret ingredient of virus-fighting panel: titanium oxide

A corridor with LED panels in the ceiling
The TiO2 LED Panel is said to prevent cross contamination of viral infections in workplaces and reduce employee absence.  

A LIGHT PANEL with a photocatalytic coating of titanium oxide which is claimed to eliminate 99 per cent of airborne viruses, bacteria and bad air odour is being marketed as an alternative to UV-C luminaires in the fight against Covid-19.

The TiO2 LED Panel – made in China and distributed in the UK and Europe by newly-formed company Lightico – is said to prevent cross contamination of viral infections in workplaces and reduce employee absence.  

TiO2 is an antibacterial, anti-fouling, antiviral, deodarisation and self-cleaning coating material, which has been widely used in China. It’s widely used in paint and for the purification of water in the developing world and is inert, odourless and non-toxic.

However, when used as a surface coating and excited by ultraviolet light it has some very unique properties, says its proponents.

Nanosized TiO2 incorporated into outdoor building materials, such as paving stones or paints, can substantially reduce concentrations of airborne pollutants such as volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides.

A cement that uses titanium dioxide as a photocatalytic component, produced by Italcementi Group, was included in Time Magazine‘s Top 50 Inventions of 2008.

Research conducted by Professor Akira Fujishima, the President of the Tokyo University of Science, is said to show that a nano-coating of titanium oxide on UV enhanced light fittings will oxidise airborne particles, especially bacteria such as MRSA, viruses and odour molecules. 

Lightico says that TiO2-coated LED panels have been used by the Chinese to great effect to reduce airborne pathogen spread in hospitals. 

‘They realised early in the pandemic that pathogenicity of Covid-19 appears in part to be related to environmental viral load, with many of the hospital staff in China who are treating pneumonic patients succumbing to the disease whilst ostensibly not being in the ‘at-risk’ cohort of patients. 

‘This risk to hospital staff and patients can be reduced significantly by the relatively simple expedient of changing the lights in the treatment areas and nursing wards.’

The company is now marketing a  40W 600×600 LED panel with an output of 3000 lumens. It’s coated with titanium oxide and its performance in killing pathogens is proportional to the flow of air over the coating.