03 Feb

The Possibility of Future, Smog-Eating Buildings

As climate change increasingly becomes a problem, the world’s greatest minds are seeking creative solutions to clean our earth’s air. Some environmental scientists, architects, and designers are analyzing buildings to determine how to effectively use them for passively cleaning smoggy urban air.

So far, scientists have discovered a number of chemical reactions that can help to improve air quality with some simple help from the sun. One noteworthy building that’s been causing an air cleansing stir is the Torre de Especialidades, a hospital located in Mexico City, with a 100-yard-long façade created with special tiles that help to clean air.

Air pollution has historically caused nearly 2.5 million deaths each year with approximately 500,000 people dying due to ozone poisoning and another 2.1 million deaths caused by fine particle matter. More recently, the World Health Organization has reported nearly 3 million deaths linked to air pollution. Air cleanliness is a crucial component to the health of the planet and its inhabitants.

Graphene Composite: Smog-Eating Concrete

In an effort to discover another way to remove pollutants from the air, a group of scientists examined titania for its photocatalytic properties that degrade nitrogen oxides and other volatile compounds when exposed to sunlight. By combining a liquid-phase exfoliation of graphite with titania nanoparticles, they created a graphene-titania composite that degraded up to 70% more atmospheric harmful air pollutants than standard procedures.

This graphene-titania composite can be used to coat different surfaces such as sidewalks, building walls, or streets. It’s important that the composite comes in contact with sunlight.

Various countries have experimented with the smog-eating concrete such as the Netherlands, where a road surface in Hengelo was covered with air-purifying concrete paving stones. The researchers discovered that the air-purifying concrete with the ideal weather conditions had a 45% decrease in air pollutants. While the smog-eating concrete promises to greatly decrease air pollution, it still requires more testing before it can be fully commercialized and rolled out for urban use.

Smog-Eating Roof Shingles

Researchers have discovered a method for making roof shingles that assist in purifying the air, creating a solution that eventually could be employed in private, public, and even residential spaces. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers designed shingles’ photocatalytic granules that were tested over a three-year period to determine whether it would successfully reduce air pollution.

Through the use of sunlight, the shingles react to air pollutants, scrubbing the air for nitrogen oxides (a pollutant caused by engine fuel and a main component of smog). The molecules are converted by the sun’s power to create a non-volatile species that can be washed away by rain.

Since nearly 80% of roofs in the United States use shingles, smog-eating roof shingles could deeply influence the air pollution situation. Researchers are trying to determine whether or not the roof shingles will hold up under extended periods of time, extreme temperatures, and inclement weather.

Smog-eating technologies, whether concrete or shingles, could be the key for purifying the air in urban settings with extreme situations of smog. At Golden Arrow, our goal is to protect the environment while creating the best packaging for our clients. Reach out today to find out the environmentally friendly solution to your packaging.