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July 30th, 2010

Titanium dioxide-coated anti-NOx roof tiles now being marketed in U.S.

Published on July 30th, 2010 | By: pwray@ceramics.org

Apparently more folks are jumping on the titanium dioxide’s anti-smog bandwagon. A few days ago I wrote about studies underway in Netherlands where they are testing TiO2-coated concrete roadway pavers for their ability to remove NOx emissions in the air.

Two days ago I learned that concrete roof tiles treated with titanium dioxide are now being marketed in the U.S. for their anti-NOx benefits. The MonierLifeTiles company, part of the Australia-based Boral corporate group, claims that in one year, a 2000 square foot roof of the new tiles “destroy the same amount of nitrogen oxides as a car produces from being driven 10,800 miles.”

The company doesn’t provide any references on these numbers, but the implication, of course, is that a consumer could theoretically offset the NOx emissions of his or her car assuming they drove around 10,000 miles a year. According to the company’s website, the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics did confirm the TiO2-treated tiles ability to degrade NO molecules (see below).

Now, apparently Monier-Boral have been selling these tiles for some time outside the U.S., so this isn’t exactly a new product. The company signaled (sort of – I’ll explain below) that it is now interested in the U.S. market when it teamed up with KB Home to outfit a model house in a new KB community, Alamosa, in West Lancaster, Calif., near LA.

The model home also features solar panel-battery-LED lighting system produced by a Chinese company, BYD – the same BYD that is manufacturing electric vehicles). USA today has a brief write up on the model house. (Sunpluggers has a more detailed story about the house’s systems but doesn’t mention the roof tiles.)

But with PV panels covering a chunk of the 1519-square-foot home’s roof, the owners may need to be driving a hybrid to brag that they are offsetting their smog contribution.

The Alamosa house has gained publicity, but it seems to me that the company is stumbling when it comes to actually marketing this line of tile. First, there is nothing about the tiles on the website they promote (www.montierlifetile.com) about the tile. Not even a press release about the Alamosa house. A little Googling leads one to the company’s European site where more info exists, but nothing helpful about sales.

Second, a few calls to some of Monier’s regional sales people in the U.S. led to a lot of unanswered voicemails. When I was finally referred to the MonierLifeTile’s national customer service number, the person at the other end of the line said she had never heard of Auranox and didn’t know what I was referring to. A message with the national sales manager has, so far, gone unanswered. Thus, I can’t tell you what the tiles cost or where they are made.

Third, the company is using untrained PR folks who either don’t know when to put a leash on the hyperbole or, worse, just make things up:

(from one of their emails, emphasis added) “So, if a homeowner has a roof with Auranox tiles he/she can have a net zero impact on the environment.”

(and this) “About 48% of all greenhouse gases and air pollution comes from homes and buildings and 18% from the entire transportation industry.”

The one thing that the company seems to be doing right is its Facebook page.

 


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