When we think about what can be done to reduce pollution and improve life in crowded cities, the solutions usually involve more trees, more parks, and more green roofs, and of course cutting down on the source of emissions. However, a group of researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have discovered a new approach to helping clean up the air – pavement that has the ability to cut air pollution by as much as half.
Known as photocatalytic pavement, the concrete solution is mixed with titanium dioxide, which has the ability to remove dangerous components from air pollution. The pavement was installed on a block in the city of Hengelo, where researchers looked at nitrogen oxides (NOx), a group of gases produced by power plants and vehicles that combine with other compounds to create smog.
Over the course of a year, the street reduced NOx pollution by an average of 19%. As much as 28% was reduced in the afternoon, and on days with high radiation and low humidity, a whopping 45% of NOx pollution was reduced.
For dense urban regions such as Los Angeles, Bangkok, and Hong Kong, technology like this has the potential to significantly improve air quality and cut down on smog. That’s not to say that public transportation and clean energy shouldn’t be a priority if the sidewalk can soak up the pollution, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.
The findings were published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials.
Image CC licensed by Rupert Ganzer: Pavement (not the new smog-eating variety).