Smog-eating pavement is a reality, thanks to scientists in the Netherlands who have already installed the air-purifying pavement on city streets, cutting pollution almost in half.
Researchers with Eindhoven University of Technology installed the titanium oxide-coated pavement on one block of Hengelo, using the other half of the block as a control.
After taking measurements for a year, they were able to find that the street with smog-eating pavement was able to reduce nitrogen oxide air pollution by up to 45 percent in ideal weather and 19 percent in one day.
Titanium oxide is known to remove pollutants from the air, turning them into less harmful chemicals. Nitrogen oxides are poisonous gases produced by cars and power plants. They react with components in the atmosphere to form smog.
The scientists’ findings were published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials and could one day help cities combat pollution from auto emissions. But the pavement is also more expensive than normal cement, which is why it is not currently on every street in urban areas.
The air-cleaning potential of titanium oxide has been known for a long time. But Institution of Chemical Engineers Chief Executive David Brown stated of the study, “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.”
A version of the smog-eating pavement was created in 2006 by Italian company Italcementi. The product made Time Magazine’s list of “Best Inventions of 2008.” At the time, scientists accepted the pavement as a possibility, but were still skeptical.
Despite it being expensive, Chicago installed some of the coated pavement in bicycle and parking lanes in April. Janet Attarian, project manager for the plan, stated that the effect of the city’s innovations was more important than the cost of the pavement.
Would you like to see smog-eating pavement on a sidewalk near you?
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