Clean Campuses project aims to develop “self-cleaning” walls at Wolfson

There’s something special on the walls at Wolfson right now – and it could mean a safer, cleaner, and more sustainable future for built environments like Wolfson.

Dr Nicholas Jose and Charlie Barty King

The Clean Campuses initiative is one of several Living Lab projects supported and funded by the Sustainability and Conservation Research Hub at Wolfson College.

Project lead Dr Nicholas Jose has helped develop a novel zinc oxide coating which has proved to have effective anti-microbial properties in lab tests. In July this year, his team installed a poster with coating samples of the Zinc Oxide formula alongside other industry coatings, as well as a control, by the stairs outside the Karen Sparks Jones room. The trial will run until December 2022, with swabs taken each month to monitor and compare microbial growth on the different surfaces.

To scale up the project, the team have established a collaboration with Crown Paints to produce a larger quantity of a special “interior formulation” that combines paint with their Zinc Oxide formula (ZArmour).

“Once the paint sample and laboratory tests are complete, we will work with the College to apply the paint to the indoor test sites," says Dr Jose.

“The sites we identified are quite public and will be designed in a way to showcase the project to the Wolfson community.

"We’ve also applied the ZArmour to several external locations, including outside the back gate” Dr Jose adds. “We’re interested to see how the formula performs against the elements, and if there are any environmental factors that need to be taken into account”.

Dr Jose is clear on what he wants to achieve: “Ultimately, our goal is to greatly reduce the need for cleaning products at educational institutions,” he says.

Potentially, we could see this innovation far beyond the walls of Wolfson too.

About Dr Nicholas Jose

Dr Jose was awarded his doctorate in Chemical Engineering at the University of Cambridge in 2019, before becoming the founder and CEO of his own company Accelerated Materials Ltd. (website, LinkedIn). Nick's project looks at the application of novel zinc oxide coatings for more sustainable education infrastructures.

Find out more about Accelerated Materials and the Clean Campuses Living Lab project.