Farms and livestock facilities are often smelt before they are seen, but researchers at Iowa State University are literally shedding light on a potential solution.
By coating agricultural buildings with a thin layer of titanium dioxide and then shining a milder version of UV light – termed black light – on the surface, they were able to neutralise the gaseous compounds that cause these unpleasant odours in test conditions.
The method initiates a photocatalytic reaction that breaks up the smelly compounds into less odorous substances. Initial laboratory studies documented odour reductions of between 40 and 100 percent.
Besides the smell, some of the gases resulting from livestock farming are also harmful to the environment. Encouragingly, initial tests also showed the process reduced nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas, by 9 percent.
The findings will now be tested on a livestock facility to analyse whether the effects can be replicated in real world conditions, with a view to ultimately producing a commercially viable coating.