It Slices, It Dices: Pollution Eating Concrete

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Another tip came our way from Brian to check out a Wired News story on "Scrubbing Bubbles Hit the Streets". Turns out that nanotechnology can do more then keep your pants stain free - a coating of titanium dioxide on concrete surfaces has the ability to turn common pollution into non-hazardous waste. A Swedish-Finnish collaboration is setting out to create these multifunction materials for civil engineering. I think this is just the start of beautiful friendship between nanotechnology and green living.This particular multi-functional material is created by applying a titanium dioxide coating on concrete. The reaction with Titanium Dioxide works through adding sunlight. Titanium dioxide has the ability to absorb UV light (why it is used in sun-block lotions); this capture of UV radiation then enables a catalytic reaction to take place which destroys common pollutants from vehicle emissions that happen to touch the surface of the titanium dioxide.

The technology already exists in the Architecture world, primarily as self cleaning photo-catalytic tiles, that keep buildings clean through 'self cleaning' technology. The proposal of using the technology to better air quality is a new way of thinking aobut building materials and design. The major challenge for the Swedish-Finnish project will be to reduce the price of the concrete so that it is not overly expensive over traditional road materials. It might also be wise for them to increase the surface area of the concrete to react with more air through the system. I wish them the best of luck; and look forward to when LA doesn't have a brown cloud hanging on the horizon. ::Wired News