Much research has demonstrated several uses for titanium dioxide nanoparticles. A search of the Internet and scientific article databases will find hundreds of articles reporting on possible uses of titanium dioxide nanoparticles, based on its properties. These properties and uses include:
1. The ability to reduce (decompose) dirt, pollutants, bacteria, and other materials that land on the titanium dioxide nanoparticle surface. Sunlight striking the nanoparticle surface generates free radicals, which then breakup (reduce, destroy) dirt, pollutants, and other materials. With this property, titanium dioxide nanoparticles can be used in coating products applied to glass, textile, and other surfaces to counter these materials.
2. The ability to reflect ultraviolet rays so that these rays do not pass through a coating of titanium dioxide nanoparticles. With this property, titanium dioxide nanoparticles can be used in sun screening protection products.
3. The ability to act as a semiconductor material. With this property, titanium dioxide nanoparticles are finding use in solar cell products
An Internet search for actual products being offered by companies finds products being marketed on the basis of these titanium dioxide nanoparticle properties. However, much fewer such products are found than might be expected.
A likely explanation for these fewer-than-expected titanium dioxide nanoparticle products is the cost of current methods for producing the nanoparticles. Another possible explanation might be the concern over the yet-to-be-determined safety of titanium dioxide nanoparticles in certain uses.
Both of these situations - the current cost-prohibitive processes for making titanium dioxide nanoparticles and their possible adverse health effects in certain uses - have been the subject of a lot of recent research
Research that finds less costly production methods and increased assurances of titanium dioxide nanoparticle safety probably will lead to more titanium dioxide nanoparticle products.
Two recent research results that seem favorable for more titanium dioxide nanoparticle products are a less costly method for producing titanium dioxide nanoparticles, reported by the US Department of Energy's Sandia Laboratories, and the lack of adverse health effects in certain titanium dioxide nanoparticle use situations, reported by German universities. Click here and here to read about this research.
Titanium dioxide nanoparticles have different physical properties than those for another form of titanium dioxide - the form that has been used for dozens of years as a pigment in paints and other materials to provide white color to the materials. Click here (PDF file) for an overview of titanium dioxide pigment and nanoparticle characteristics and uses.
According to one major producer of titanium dioxide, the production (use) of titanium dioxide nanoparticles is only about 1% of that of titanium dioxide pigment (click here to read this producer’s estimate). Recent use (production) estimates for the pigment is about 5 million metric tons, so recent titanium dioxide nanoparticles use is estimated to be about 50,000 metric tons (1% times 5 million metric tons).