The "Miracle" of Self Cleaning Glass

Time for another trip into the the Far, Far, Far-Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.

Today, spaceship Hightower takes you toward the bright, sparkling star of technological nirvana, where even the most mundane of chores can be dealt with through a cornucopia of man-made compounds. As if you don't have enough chemicals, heavy metals, and other compounds in, on, and around your home, a British glassmaker called the Pilkington Corporation has announced that it has discovered a process for producing one of the holy grails of home-building products: Glass windows that clean themselves.

How do they do this? The New York Times reports that Pilkington applies a permanent coating of a metallic compound called titanium oxide to the glass. This synthetic substance apparently causes rainwater to act differently. On regular glass, rainwater that contains dust, pollen, and other particles, beads up and runs down in rivulets, leaving those dreaded streaks and spots. The titanium-treated windows, on the other hand, cause water to run down the glass in a continuous sheet, diffusing the various particles across the window. But what if there's no rain? No problem -- the ultraviolet rays of sunlight react with the coating to break down dirt over time, also helping to clean the windows.

Perfect, right? No muss, no fuss. Not entirely. It seems that this "self-cleaning" is an ongoing process so, as a company official conceded to the Times, the window "never looks totally spotless." Hmmm. Then there's the cost factor -- these jewels will run about $240 to more than $700 per window, which prices most of us out of the market. Also, there's no mention of any health effects of surrounding your family with titanium oxide, or of the environmental impact of the water run-off.

This is Jim Hightower saying... When it comes to technological miracles, behind every silver lining, there's a cloud.


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