I first read about this technology back in 2008 and haven’t really seen an explosion of usage – despite it being a great idea! I live in an urban environment where apartments are being built at a constant rate. I have four new blocks being built within a short walk from my home and four that have recently opened. There are a further 8-10 blocks being considered by the local Government, which will inevitably happen as the Government has wasted tax payers money and needs to top up the coffers with annual rates from the residents and dollars from the developers.
What I don’t see from any of these developments are choices made to improve the residents environment or clean energy usage. “Smog eating cement” is a technology that could help to reduce the pollution caused by more traffic in the area.
This is a stunning idea and was developed by Italcementi, an Italian producer of hydraulic binders. It is called TX Active and comes in two forms:
- TX Arca
This looks like it is a rendering that covers the outside of a building and through its composition can keep its colouring and clean look.
- TX Aria
This is used for paints, grouting and smoothers.
The key to these products is Titanium Oxide. It is the catalyst that is used in the decomposition of polluting microorganisms and “eliminates the nitrogen oxides produced by any process of combustion, from boilers and cars, central heating and domestic ovens right up to power stations” – a nice description from the ItalTrade web site. The catalyst neutralises the oxides which is then washed off easily with rainwater or a normal building wash.
The cement was first used in the construction of the Dives in Misericordia Church in Rome that was commissioned by Pope John Paul II. Then it was used to pave Via Borgo Palazzo in Bergamo. Tests on both sites showed the concentrations of nitrogen oxides during the day were reduced by between 26% and 56%, depending on environmental conditions. Air France have used the cement on the construction of their headquarters at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris as well. Now the cement has been used and tested in the Netherlands with similar reductions to the Italian sites and the US is now gearing up to use it as well. Chicago has covered a pavement next to one of its worst polluted roads to test its efficiencies.
There are concerns about the use of “photocatalytic cement” in that when it washes off into rivers and other water sources, it could cause algae blooms. I don’t see an issue with this because if the water is captured and algae is created, that gives the city another source of bio-diesel!
Founded in 1864, Italcementi has been run by the Pesenti family with many generations managing the business and provides 60 million tons of cement annually across four continents.
I’m looking at the construction sites around me and thinking “what a wasted opportunity to provide a better environment!”