TECHNOLOGY PROFILE - AIR PURIFICATION
This revolutionary paint absorbs carbon dioxide to purify your air.
By Steve Panosian
IMAGINE ELIMINATING UP TO 95 PERCENT OF INDOOR AIR POLLUTION IN ONE HOUR and bringing the power of nature to your space with a revolutionary carbon dioxide (CO2) absorbing paint. Let me put it another way – just by painting the inside of a house (which you’re going to do for every house you build or remodel) you can give a family a major reduction in their indoor air pollution.
I have been covering clean air strategies for some time and Smog Armor, who describe themselves as a Carbon Tech Company, are an amazing success story. They are delivering innovative solutions to improve the air you, your customers, and employees breathe at home and in the office, contributing to a cleaner and healthier environment.
I recently sat down with Tim Sperry, Smog Armor Founder, and Adam Huss, VP of Strategy, who share their insights about the company and their passion for their products.
VP of Strategy
STEVE: This is so fascinating, Tim. Tell me about how you came up with an air purifying paint?
TIM: The Smog Armor paint we are selling today evolved directly from my work in designing a solution to reduce exhaust emissions from vehicles. My quest in finding a solution was driven partly because of my sensitivities to airborne pollutants, my passion for nature and, unfortunately, the loss of a few family members to lung cancer.
I grew up in a part of Wisconsin where the air was fresh and clean, and everyone always enjoyed the outdoors. While indoor air was not always a concern of mine, it was after my move to Florida when my breathing issues became problematic. It was then I decided it was not right that we overlook the air pollution plaguing our environment today and that something had to be done for the benefit of everyone’s health and the health of our environment. So I set out to do something about reducing air pollution and at the time car emissions seemed to make the most sense and the easiest to tackle.
We designed a tailpipe integrated with what is now our Zeo CarbonTech, and it worked! It was from this development that we decided to test our Zeo CarbonTech by mixing it into architectural paint. We had no idea where this would take us, or even if it would work.
STEVE: What was involved with mixing your mineral formulation?
TIM: Adding our mineral formulation to architectural paint was not easy but we finally found a paint manufacturer near Sarasota, Florida who was interested and innovative enough to work with us. The company’s paint chemist, who happened to be from Wisconsin too, worked with us on figuring out how to mix our enhanced mineral formulation into paint. What we learned put us on the path of developing an air purifying paint product.
STEVE: Do you have patents on the paint, can you share how it works?
TIM: We have several patents, the main one being the actual carbon technology, which is the formula that has a base of a special enhanced zeolite mineral. This enhanced mineral formulation itself, plus the integration methodology and a couple of other proprietary processes, make up the patents we own.
The enhanced mineral formulation was a result of my research on figuring out a solution for car emissions. I had stumbled upon a mineral commonly used for a couple of different applications. However, I was enlightened by how it had been integrated into a CO2 sequestration system used on the International Space Station. The system was designed to maintain fresh air for the astronauts, and this is what really drove my air purification vision home. The absorbency properties of this mineral act as a sponge for positive ions because it is negatively charged. In essence it is a molecular sieve that attracts and eliminates surrounding air pollution and CO2. I figured out a way to enhance this mineral formulation that achieved the results with the prototypes and ultimately what we patented along with the paint integration process.
STEVE: What are the early measurable results of the paint testing?
TIM: Soon after we formulated the paint samples, I found a lab that could test the efficacy of our paint. We also worked with a couple of other testing facilities around the country to perform a variety of efficacy testing on the paint. Amazingly, after three months, which was really like almost a year of waiting for us, the first results showed that the paint reduced up to 95.1 percent of indoor air pollution in one hour. This reduction in indoor air pollution consisted of the most commonly occurring airborne pollutants found in a home. These results were jaw dropping and most encouraging for us.
STEVE: Can you share which test labs and what they tested for?
TIM: Yes, one of them is Innovatech Labs, LLC based in Minnesota. They did the tests that measured the 95.1 percent of reduction of the most commonly occurring pollutants in our home's Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). The indoor air pollutants tested consist of different VOCs including formaldehyde, which are among the biggest on the list. Common contributors that everyone reads about are found in glues, furniture, pressed wood products and most building materials. Off-gassing of VOCs from products and furniture is a continuous releasing of gaseous air pollutants into our homes and businesses. It is the release of a gas that was dissolved, trapped, or absorbed in building materials. Off-gassing can include evaporation, desorption, seepage from cracks, and gaseous products of slow chemical reactions. That new furniture, new carpeting, new paint, or any “new” smell is likely not good or healthy to breathe.
STEVE: Do you measure CO2 reduction separately?
ADAM: Yes, we do. Dallas Laboratories and Stoke Labs perform tests for CO2 capture and CO2 saturation points, which is how we determined the paint would absorb three times or more of its weight in CO2. To illustrate this, one gallon of Smog Armor paint has about 12 football fields’ worth of absorption surface area. So, we determined that each gallon of Smog Armor Breathe paint removes as much CO2 as one tree does in one year! That is also why we estimate the paint’s effectiveness will last in your home around three to five years. The product air purifying life is variable because we must factor the types of chemical cleaners used in a home, how toxic the home air is and the effectiveness of a home or business’s ventilation system.
STEVE: Does washing the painted walls limit the air purifying properties of the paint?
ADAM: This is part of the performance and durability testing of the paint. We are scoring 9.4 to 9.6 based on a scoring range of 1 to 10. On durability, these performance tests were performed by Green Wises and Coatings Research Group Inc. along with a third-party lab.
STEVE: Do each of the paint types perform the same?
ADAM: The best performing paint for VOCs and CO2 reduction is our matte and satin finish paints. The paint needs to be somewhat porous for best results and that is why these two finishes deliver the best performances. For bathrooms and kitchens, because of steam and oils in the air, we recommend you use our satin paint for best results.
STEVE: Do you have any endorsements or best practices you can share?
ADAM: We have a Green Wise Certification on our paint. This is a third-party certification that is the equivalent of an organic stamp on food. Green Wise certifies paints based on their chemical level measures and they do performance tests on paints as well. Not only are we Green Wise certified, but using our products can also qualify for LEED V4 credits.
STEVE: Where can Smog Armor Paint be purchased?
ADAM: Our concentration today is towards the B2B side of the business. We are more focused on that, but we are also certainly available to individual consumers. We know young families are especially focused on the health and environment for their kids. Painting a kid’s room is a major priority once people learn about our paint products’ benefits.
We love to work with business owners, hotels, architects, developers, and property owners and management companies to provide a Simple Solution to improve customer experience, promote a healthier indoor environment, and productivity of employees. Many developers are now receiving increased demand for improving indoor air quality in their homes and buildings, so we serve as a great marketing tool to attract health-conscious consumers.
STEVE: Can custom colors be ordered?
TIM: Yes, we offer color matching for our commercial customers. For our direct to consumers, we plan to build out a specific color palette that hits on the main colors that get ordered, as well as colors that elicit a positive psychological effect. Apart from maybe a few neon colors we can pretty much match most any color.
STEVE: Can your paint formulation or base paints be mixed with other paints and tint?
ADAM: No. Mixing tints with our paint bases is problematic, because if you mix our zero VOC paint and drop any color into it, most tints and colorants are heavy on VOCs and can negate some of the attributes of what our paints’ benefits offer. Therefore, we offer our tints that have zero VOCs and the highest quality.
STEVE: Tell me about your involvement in Climate Week 2020.
ADAM: We recently worked with Greenpoint Innovations to complete the first Carbon Negative and Air Purifying mural in New York City across from the UN building in collaboration with the UN SDG Action Campaign, NYC Schools, along with many other great organizations for Climate Week 2020 NYC.
STEVE: What can you share that is on the horizon from Smog Armor?
TIM: Smog Armor is very excited about announcing a new CARBON ZERO paint, which will have two to three times more capacity for removing the surrounding CO2 carbon footprint to further help the design-build community achieve their carbon reduction and carbon neutral goals.
Above all, we continue to be committed to the mission our company was founded on, and the goal is to extend that impact beyond small spaces. From starting air purifying murals across communities in the USA, to collaborating with artists for purposeful art, as well as organizations that are aligned with our vision like the PangeaSeed Foundation, the road is long, and we are up for the challenge.
STEVE: Final thoughts?
TIM: We offer the simplest solution to improving indoor air quality without changing anyone’s habits.