New construction technology could eliminate smog

| 7/26/2005

Think of it as a catalytic converter for your house.

As part of a $1.7 million project aimed at eliminating dangerous airborne pollutants, two Swedish construction companies – Skanska and Cementa – are developing building materials that can actually resist and break down the nasty chemicals in the air.

The key element in the project is an experimental cement and concrete product that is coated with titanium dioxide, the same substance used in toothpaste and some white paint. According to CNN, when UV rays react with the chemical, they can actually break down the molecules of pollutants, including nitrogen oxides produced by diesels and other engines.

“Among other things, we want to construct concrete walls that break down vehicle exhausts in road tunnels,” said Karin Pettersson, a spokesperson for Skanska, told CNN.

The companies have tested the products on 75,000 square feet of roadways in Sweden, and found a reduction in nitrogen oxide levels of 60 percent. The new cement is also being tested in real-world situations, such as for the construction of the Jubilee Church in Rome.

“Now we have to change and think of the product not just for architectural purposes, but also for environmental purposes,” Francesco Galimberti, spokesperson for Italcementi, the company that created the Roman church, told CNN.

There’s also a bonus side effect – the chemical coating also keeps dirt from sticking, making it that much easier to clean large buildings.