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
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.