Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way that we could get rid of pollution without actually having to do anything? Well, researchers at UCR in southern California believe they have a solution that fits the bill. A new coating for roof tiles can absorb smog pollutants, and can clean the area’s air daily if given a chance by homeowners.
By spraying clay roof tiles with titanium dioxide, UCR students discovered that 88% to 97% of nitrogen oxide pollution can be cleaned from the air. The calculations suggest that 21 tons of nitrogen oxides can be removed from the air with the adoption of the roof tiles on one million homes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make much of a dent in the 500 tons of pollution emitted every day in Southern California.
Despite the 4% reduction rate, it’s worth noting that the research delivers positive results. With even a small coating of titanium dioxide, there is effectiveness being exhibited. It’s a small step in the average homeowner taking an effort to reduce air pollution, without actually having to do more than apply a treatment to their roof. The average sized home would only require about $5 worth of the coating to treat their existing roof.
These types of roofing tiles are available commercially already, although they are fairly expensive. A small study completed by the UC Riverside engineering students showed that pollution concentrations can decrease in as little as 20 minutes when using titanium dioxide coated roof tiles.
These new roof tiles aren’t the first invention to harness the pollutant eating capabilities of titanium dioxide. In the Netherlands, a city street comprised of titanium dioxide coated pavers was proven to reduce nitrogen oxide pollution by 45%.
The research on titanium dioxide coatings and their effect on air pollutants, specifically nitrogen oxide, shows a positive step towards dealing with environmental issues. Because the coating is relatively easy to use and requires very little from the consumer, it can be a way to proactively deal with smog without negatively affecting the appearance of the neighborhood.
Titanium dioxide is a compound that is already added to a variety of consumer products, such as paint, makeup, and sunscreen. The UC Riverside students would like to continue their research to determine if the addition of titanium dioxide to paint used on walls would also have an effect. If so, adding this type of paint to concrete dividers and walls along major highways can help reduce the air pollution emitted from traffic.
While the concept isn’t anything new, and the research study was small, the findings are a big step in the right direction for dealing with pollution. Better air quality is something that many major cities struggle to maintain, and something as simple as a coated roof tiles (or painted walls) can have a large impact. The next step is to think large scale, and apply the pollution eating aspect of titanium dioxide in a bigger project.