Dutch Scientists Invent Air-Purifying Pavement
The Netherlands– Smog and pavement are defining features of some urban areas; now it seems the solution to the former may be where it meets the latter. Scientists in the Netherlands were able to cut air pollution almost in half after installing special air-purifying pavement on city streets.
Photocatalytic surfaces have long been known to have air-cleaning potential. Now, researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology have sprayed paving blocks with titanium dioxide, a compound with the ability to convert air pollutants captured from the air in to less harmful chemicals, like nitrates. The streets of an entire city block in Hengelo, the Netherlands, were paved with these special blocks, with an adjacent street left with normal pavement as a control. The scientists took measurements for a year and found that air pollution from nitrogen oxides (also called NOx) were reduced by up to 45% under ideal conditions, and 19% over a full day. NOx are produced by cars (and powerplants) and are not only poisonous, but also react in the atmosphere to form smog. Their findings were published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.
The results of this Dutch research have helped increase the publicity for this unique remediation technique, despite the fact that the technology had previously been introduced by an Italian company in 2008. “This latest research shows the potential of chemically engineered surfaces to further improve our quality of life, especially in major urban areas where traffic emissions are high,” said Chief Executive of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, David Brown, in a press release.
The treated pavement does become less effective over time- and costs around 10 percent more than typical paving cement. This smog-eating pavement may not be a solution for overall reduction in air pollution but the potential for mitigating automotive emissions in the worst-hit areas is there.