Self-Cleaning Ceramic Tile Turns Pollution Into Mineral Salts

Self-Cleaning Ceramic Tile Turns Pollution Into Mineral Salts

Elements inspired by nature helps fight toxins and bacteria.

Yi Chen
  • 30 may 2014

Active is one of the world’s first ceramic material that actively fights pollutions and is able to clean itself. The tiles can be used indoors and outdoors to purify the surrounding environment.

The idea was founded by Dr. Romana Minozzi from Italy and his team of collaborators. The group of researchers and scientists wanted to “build a new tile that was not only aesthetically appealing, but which also possessed the unique feature to play an active role in improving the quality of human life.”


The ceramic tiles work through photocatalysis, a phenomenon that is found in nature. The tiles are coated in titanium dioxide and the process is trigged by a light source (natural or artificial) and air humidity. The chemical recreation results the decomposition of organic and inorganic substances present in the atmosphere. It’s capable of reacting with most common air pollutant molecules, such as mono-nitrogen oxide (NOx), particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In the end, the polluting molecules are turned into harmless mineral salts.

Active also claims to be self-cleaning in the sense that the titanium dioxide coating can also breakdown molecules such as grease, dirt, odors and bacteria. The tiles can cleaned simply through rinsing them with water, which limits the use of aggressive detergents and solvents. Due to this aseptic nature of the ceramic tiles, Active has been gaining traction and popularity among restaurants, medical clinics, fitness centers and schools.


The company collaborated with the web studio Basilico to create an interactive microsite where users can drag-and-drop polluting elements onto the tile to see just how effective it is.

There’s a growing trend for self-cleaning products with consumers becoming more conscious of using chemical detergents and also the time spent and water used in the cleaning process.

Last year, Tomorrow Machine and Innventia created a prototype tableware that repels dirt and water – making doing the dishes a thing of the past. Also more recently, Nissan has being testing on an innovative paint technology that is designed to resist water, oil and dirt.



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