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Scientists at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have just completed a year long study to discover that giving pavement blocks a special air purifying coating can reduce the level of air pollution by nearly a half.
In a study paper released in the Journal of Hazardous Materials, the researchers describe how they coated concrete blocks in titanium oxide, a substance known to be able to remove pollutants from the air and turn them into less harmful chemicals, for the length of an entire city block in Hengelo. They then tested the levels of air pollution over the course of a year, and compared them with an adjacent street.
At the end of the year the team was able to determine that the street using photocatalytic paving stones (as the concrete blocks are referred to) recorded an average of 19% less nitrogen oxide pollution, and as much as 45% less when conditions were perfect, ie. low humidity and high radiation.
Castorweg Street in Hengelo, the Netherlands, where researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology installed paving blocks coated in titanium oxide. (LA Times)
Nitrogen oxides (NOx) refer to several poisonous gasses that are emitted from car exhausts and power plant chimneys, and react with other compounds in the atmosphere to form smog.
Related article: China Introduces Death Penalty for Serious Cases of Pollution
The photocatalytic paving stones are more expensive than standard concrete blocks, but their ability to reduce the concentration of smog in the atmosphere could prove a huge boon in the battle to clean up the air in cities. Notoriously polluted cities across China, and India, and even places such as Mexico City could hugely benefit from installing such blocks along their streets. Even normal cities that are considered fairly smog free would benefit from using the blocks in areas that may suffer from high traffic usage, or near to power plants, where pollution levels are often slightly elevated.
David Brown, the Chief Executive Officer of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, explained that they have been aware of the ability for photocatalytic surfaces to reduce air pollution, but that “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.”
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com