New antimicrobial-coated steel suppresses mold

With mold and mildew becoming an increasing concern in the construction industry, AK Steel of Middletown, Ohio, has found a solution: steel coated with an antimicrobial compound. The company coats its steel products with a compound called AgIon, which contains ions of silver that interact with the humidity in the air to suppress bacteria, mold, mildew, fungi and most other types of microbes.

The company recently unveiled a concept home in Simi Valley, California, that uses the antimicrobial product. The home consists of 200,000 pounds of steel, which was used for all the framing, roofing materials and ceilings. Approximately 35,000 pounds of the steel was coated with the AgIon compound and used for everything from ceilings to doorknobs and kitchen appliances. The building’s carbon steel duct system for the air-conditioning and heating system is also coated with the compound.

“The home’s unique use of antimicrobial-coated steel is in response to the demand for products that help keep homes cleaner,” said Alan H. McCoy, vice president of public affairs for AK Steel. “Public awareness of microbes has grown rapidly in the past few years, and with it so has the interest in products that can help address concerns for cleanliness.”

According to Eric Welte, applications engineer for AK Steel, the coating does not instantaneously disinfect, but rather provides a more long-term protection. Because the antimicrobial compound is a new product, the company plans to test it over the next 10 years to see how durable it is.

If it proves successful, AK Steel and other companies, including appliance manufacturer Marvel Scientific, plan to use the coated steel in hospitals, schools and public buildings. Marvel Scientific has already installed appliances coated with the AgIon compound in hospitals, and plans to launch a commercial product within the next year.

In addition to coating steel, AgIon can be also be used in clothing, plastics, air and water filters and paints. For more information about AgIon and AK Steel’s concept home, click on the link to the right.