Concrete that cleans pollution

“Smart building materials designed to clean the air”

The European Union earmarked US$2.27 billion to develop “smart” construction materials that would break down pollution – nitrogen oxides and other toxic substances.

From transstudio

“In the United States there are 46,837 miles of highways with miles of sound barrier walls being erected daily to mitigate the negative impacts of highway systems on urban neighborhoods. At the same time, these transportation systems alone produce 1.4 billion tons of airborne pollution annually.

With the increasing prominence of this additional component to our highway infrastructure, the public is beginning to demand a more appealing design solution to highway-generated air, sound, and light pollution.

“In addition to mitigating sound and light pollution as present highway barrier systems do, the Superabsorber system also absorbs airborne pollutants. Designed by Douglas Hecker and Martha Skinner of Clemson-based FieldOffice, this innovative system has the potential to significantly reduce airborne pollution in urban areas with the application of photocatalytic cement products that have been demonstrated to reduce air pollution in urban areas by 50% when covering just 15% of urban surfaces.”

“Among other things, we want to construct concrete walls that break down vehicle exhausts in road tunnels,” said Karin Pettersson, a spokeswoman for Swedish construction giant Skanska. “It is also possible to make pavings that clean the air in cities.” [technology review]

Enrico Borgarello, head of research and development for Italcementi, developed TX Active. It’s an additive for cement that literally eats surrounding smog.

“When light shines on TX, the material becomes active and neutralizes surrounding pollutants like nitrous oxide and sulfur dioxide.”

According to tests conducted by Italcementi, which spent more than a decade and $10 million developing the product, TX can reduce local air pollutants from 20% to 70%, depending on sunlight levels and wind. It also adds as much as 20% to the cost of the cement.

Cover 15% of the exposed surfaces of a city like Milan, Borgarello estimates, and you could cut pollution in half. And as a bonus, TX helps buildings stay whiter than white by resisting the pollutants that scar and stain cement over time. [Time Magazine]