Toyota debuts air-purifying ‘eco-billboard’ technology in California


Toyota has launched a new air-cleaning ‘eco-billboard’ in California as part of an advertising campaign to promote its Mirai fuel cell car, which emits nothing but water vapor.

The Toyota Mirai eco-billboard campaign, which has been launched in coordination with Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, will help clean the air from April 3 through May 28. A total of 37 billboards in Los Angeles and San Francisco will create 24,960ft² (2,318m²) of pollution scrubbing surface and reverse the equivalent of 5,285 vehicles’ worth of nitrogen dioxide (NOx) emissions per month. NOx is a key ingredient in acid rain and smog.

The ‘catalytic converter’ of billboards uses a titanium dioxide-coated vinyl to purify the surrounding air. When oxygen reacts with the energized titanium dioxide catalyst, NOx is converted to nitrate and removed from the air. The light-activated, smog-reducing billboards continue to purify the air as long as light, humidity, airflow, and the titanium dioxide coating are present.

The technique uses a form of photosynthesis that is known as ultra violet photocatalysis (UV-PCO), which is the acceleration of a photoreaction in the presence of a catalyst that speeds up a chemical reaction without being used up in the process. In UV-PCO, light energy from the sun energizes a mineral called anatase titanium dioxide (TiO2); and the natural chemical breakdown of organic molecules, such as grime, particulates and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are byproducts of automobile exhaust gas, is accelerated. The TiO2 is not used up in the reaction, so the UV-PCO process can continue to breakdown organic molecules over-and-over again until only harmless gas is left.

The PURETi Group developed the titanium dioxide coating technology used on the eco-billboards, and Clear Channel Outdoor Americas has exclusive usage rights in the outdoor advertising category. Toyota highlighted the eco-billboard campaign during the first Environmental Media Association Impact Summit in Beverly Hills, California. A Mirai hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, wrapped with the titanium dioxide-coated vinyl, purified the air as guests entered the event.

“We consistently search for new environmental technologies across all operations. When Clear Channel Outdoor Americas brought us the opportunity, we saw it as a perfect match,” said Mark Angelacos, advanced technology general manager at Toyota Motor North America. “This new campaign delivers the Toyota Mirai’s ‘vehicle of change’ message on a medium that lives up to that promise.”

Gene Leehan, executive vice president and senior regional president at Clear Channel Outdoor Americas, commented, “We are pleased to offer our environmentally-conscious clients, like Toyota, an even more eco-friendly printed vinyl option for their out-of-home (OOH) media campaigns. This campaign marks a USA first for the use of this technology on OOH, and we look forward to making it available to other like-minded advertisers.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).