TiO2 powders can be employed as both photocatalytic and structural materials, leading to applications in external coatings or in interior furnishing devices, including cement mortar, tiles, floorings, and glass supports. The technology of photocatalytic building materials is connected with the widespread production of photocatalytic active tiles. All the techniques proposed in the study involve the employment of nanosized TiO2: this represents a new problem to be dealt with, as inhaling nanoparticles exposes workers during industrial production and people in everyday locations to their dangerousness. Only very recently the employment of microsized TiO2 has been proposed, and the authors in this manuscript report the use of micrometric titania materials, but employing a new deposition technique, which is digital inkjet printing. It represents an improvement of the classical spray coating methods, as it requires piezoelectric heads to precisely direct the deposition of the suspension with an electrostatic field. The mixture contains aqueous/organic components containing micrometric TiO2: to form a suspension, which is printed onto the surface of porcelain grès, large slabs using a digital printer. Many advantages are immediately evident, namely rapid and precise deposition, (almost) no waste of raw materials, thereby highlighting the economy, environmental friendliness, and sustainability of the process. All the materials we obtained have been thoroughly characterized by means of several experimental physico-chemical techniques, such as Raman microspectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy coupled with elemental analysis. Two different model VOCs, ethanol and toluene, and NOx have been selected to test the photocatalytic performances of the abovementioned tiles. Moreover, the antibacterial properties of the tiles have been determined, using Escherichia coli as example. Life cycle assessments (LCAs) for the two processes were modeled for 1 m2 of tiles produced in Modena, Italy. The impact assessments revealed that jet spraying exhibited uniformly greater impacts than digital inkjet printing and that the principal impacts were in human toxicity, cancer effects, freshwater ecotoxicity, and climate change. Most of the impacts were associated with the energy required for the production processes. Further considerations revealed that jet spraying is projected to generate twice as much CO2 and 30% more NOx than digital inkjet printing.
Part of the book: Titanium Dioxide