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Dutch Town Lays Air-Purifying Concrete

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the i-hate-august-news-cycles dept.

Transportation 295

eldavojohn writes "In an effort to combat air pollution, a Dutch town has paved some of its streets with air-purifying concrete. It contains a titanium dioxide-based additive that utilizes sunlight to turn car exhaust into harmless nitrates. It was shown to do this in a lab and now the scientists are interested in just how much this will affect the air quality around the road. They will sample the air quality by a normal road and by this newly paved one."

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295 comments

Offset? (5, Insightful)

Recovering Hater (833107) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498239)

Because the purifying concrete offsets the pollution incurred from mining the titanium to create the concrete? Am I wrong in thinking I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly? Someone weigh in on this please. Thanks :P

Re:Offset? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24498299)

This one is obviously about enhancing the air in the city. It is not supposed to solve any large scale problems with the climate. Didn't RTFA.

Re:Offset? (3, Informative)

baldass_newbie (136609) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498927)

You should have. They're only paving one side of the street with it. This way they can test the air quality on either side of the street and see if there's any difference.
It's an experiment.
Couldn't see anyone doing 'testing' in a town in the US without two very big teams of lawyers being involved.
Yeah innovation!

Someone Else's Problem Field In Effect (1)

markdowling (448297) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499139)

Since the road would likely be paved with standard concrete anyway, the net effect is likely minor. Unless the concrete plant is in the vicinity, minor = irrelevant - politically anyway.

I would be more interested in the statement "green bricks" - is that in colour as well as pollutant effect? I'm wondering how the road markings contrast on a green colour background.

Re:Offset? (4, Insightful)

hardburn (141468) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498339)

It might. If it works well enough, it would mean we could either remove catalytic converters from cars (which would increase engine efficiency), or promote the use of small diesels (which can be more fuel efficient but release a lot more NOx), and end up with a net win for smog pollution.

In other words, it doesn't directly do anything greenhouse gases, but it does allow us to produce less greenhouse gases by using techniques that produce more nitrates.

Re:Offset? (4, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499083)

If it works well enough, it would mean we could either remove catalytic converters from cars (which would increase engine efficiency), or promote the use of small diesels (which can be more fuel efficient but release a lot more NOx), and end up with a net win for smog pollution.

An exhaust-eating road surface is never going to be as efficient as a guy just chasing your car down the street with a big vacuum cleaner hose. I think we're keeping our catalytic converters.

Re:Offset? (1)

Maint_Pgmr_3 (769003) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499323)

that utilizes sunlight to turn car exhaust into harmless nitrates.

How much money is spent going around in circles? catalytic converters convert nitrates to harmless substances, then the road makes them more harmless?
where is AlGore when we need him??

Re:Offset? (3, Funny)

KGIII (973947) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499401)

Al? He's putting on his wizard hat and robe. He'll be unavailable for a while.

Re:Offset? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24499427)

An exhaust-eating road surface is never going to be as efficient as a guy just chasing your car down the street with a big vacuum cleaner hose. I think we're keeping our catalytic converters.

I am interested in your technology. Where may I sign up for your newsletter?

Re:Offset? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24499235)

How, exactly, is removing the catalytic converter (which acts on the engine's exhaust just before it is expelled to the atmosphere) supposed to help improve engine efficiency?

Do you realize what you just said is the equivalent of claiming that a new computer monitor will give you better CPU performance?

Re:Offset? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24499345)

How, exactly, is removing the catalytic converter (which acts on the engine's exhaust just before it is expelled to the atmosphere) supposed to help improve engine efficiency? Do you realize what you just said is the equivalent of claiming that a new computer monitor will give you better CPU performance?

Because it's a flow restriction and the engine has to work to pump through it. In fact, particulate filters and catalytic converters and mufflers on new US diesel trucks harm the efficiency so much that it can do as much as 4 mpg damage.

Re:Offset? (5, Informative)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499375)

The catalytic converter isn't as efficient as a straight pipe. While not legal, cutouts that push exhaust straight outside the engine and bypass the exhaust system do improve horsepower.

It's more like bumping up the speed of your front side bus on your CPU. If you have a slower FSB, you might not ever notice it if you aren't racing your ca... CPU. But when you need that speed, it sure would be nice to remove the FSB limitation.

That said, the amount of good that catalytic converters do means we should probably keep them, as they aren't a huge drain on the power of a vehicle.

Re:Offset? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24499461)

That isn't true at all.

I'm no engine expert, but I think catalytic converters typically introduce additional restriction to an exhaust system. This will often reduce power output, the net result of which is the use of slightly more gasoline to do the same work.

The trade off with catalytic converters is not a new one, here is a post from the NY Times in 1998 that talks about it: http://www.sepp.org/Archive/controv/controversies/catalytic.html [sepp.org]

Re:Offset? (2, Insightful)

rjhubs (929158) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498543)

I supposed it could work because the cost of getting titanium is a one time cost, but the effects of the concrete will continue working over time.

Re:Offset? (2, Insightful)

Born2bwire (977760) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498599)

It would depend on whether or not the titanium dioxide is acting as a catalyst or component of the reaction.

Re:Offset? (2, Informative)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499063)

Actually, there's a recurring cost for the concrete as well: it doesn't last forever, you know! It lasts longer than asphalt concrete, but it'll still need to be repaved after a few decades.

(At least, it doesn't last forever the way we use it -- if we built like the Romans did, it'd last forever but cost a heck of a lot more.)

Re:Offset? (1)

SirCowMan (1309199) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498573)

It reduces smog more than prevents global warming (NOx's vs. apmospheric carbon), I do believe :)

Re:Offset? (3, Informative)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498669)

The Titanium is not consumed in this process (merely a catalyst) so it might very well be worth it in the long run..

Re:Offset? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498891)

So are you advocating that we just all kill ourselves? Or go back to sleeping under trees? Because once we start building anything, we create some kind of pollution.

Re:Offset? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24499157)

There are many things that can be simply picked up off the ground and used in building. For building huts (grasses, fallen branches, rocks for hammers). These don't create any pollution. Even using wood in general doesn't really create pollution (i.e. The tree will die eventually, so no extra pollution is created and nature is designed to handle that type of pollution), especially if it is all chopped up with hand-axes and tied with plant parts gathered by hand. People have always had at least some things that we build that don't produce pollution.

Re:Offset? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24499065)

"Recovering Hater"

I think you'd find an objection, no matter how ridiculous, just because you want to demonstrate that you're smart enough to find an objection.

PS, if you're truly "recovering" then your post was a serious relapse.

Rendering (1)

darkstar-x (167380) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498271)

How bout rendering existing buildings?

TFA interesting but light on details (5, Interesting)

dedazo (737510) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498277)

All passive filters I know require replacement because they get clogged, or the active elements eventually decay. Beyond making jokes about swapping the church bricks five years from now, TFA was a bit light on the details. Does anyone know how does this works, from a chemical perspective?

Re:TFA interesting but light on details (4, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498379)

I'm also a bit curious about the "harmless nitrates" [wikipedia.org] that will be washed into the ground every time it rains.

Re:TFA interesting but light on details (1)

jason.sweet (1272826) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498645)

It's OK. The increase in hurricane activity due to global warming will offset [msn.com] the negative effects of the increased nitrates.

Re:TFA interesting but light on details (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498939)

Illinois is a farm state, and I live right in the middle of it. You know what nitrates are used for here, don't you? I mean, besides explosives and methamphetamines?

I'm sure I get lungsfull all the time. Not that I'm happy about it.

Eutrophication (1)

Ritorix (668826) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498941)

Likely washed towards the sea, causing algae blooms.

Re:TFA interesting but light on details (4, Interesting)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498989)

Nitrate is also known as a fertilizer.

Maybe that will cause people to think twice before,

    1. laying down fertilizer on their lawn, and shipping cut grass to landfills - leaving grass where it is provides the new grass with its own fertilizer.

    2. writing that nitrates can be worse than NOx (NO, NO2 and others)

NO3 is completely harmless compared to the more volatile cousins NOx that come out of tail pipes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NOx [wikipedia.org]

Re:TFA interesting but light on details (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24498441)

I would imagine that active elements would decay, and that in a number of years, the concrete wouldn't do anything.

But by then, the road would need to be repaved anyways, so that's not really a problem. As long as it remains chemically active for a longer timespan than the life of the road, we're good.

Harmless nitrates? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24498287)

Like what? Explosives or rocket fuel?

Nitrates are useful (1)

Plazmid (1132467) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498301)

Wonder if there is a way to harvest them from the street.

Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24498303)

If shown to have effective results in real world tests, this could be very good for our planet. At the rate we americas drive cars, this could help to go a long long long way in reducing our polution.

Nitrates? (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498309)

Nitrates? Aren't those bad in their own right? I'm thinking along the lines of fertilizer run-off and the affect it has on algae in oceans. Could this solution create worse problems?

Re:Nitrates? (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498465)

I came in to comment on runoff into oceans as well. There's a huge area in the Gulf of Mexico that is dead - no oxygen, and thus no life, in the water. Now, I don't want to be so simple as to think all nitrates are created equal, but...

Re:Nitrates? (5, Funny)

edittard (805475) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499043)

The nitrates can't run off into the oceans, because Holland is below sea level.

Re:Nitrates? (2, Informative)

jascha.cohen (1130859) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498485)

As i recall from my "environmental studies" class, it's not that nitrates are bad in-and-of-themselves, it's that when they accumulate in an area they can unbalance the system and create problems. Wikipedia has a decent article/overview on the topic. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nitrogen_cycle [wikipedia.org]

Re:Nitrates? (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498531)

Plants need Nitrates to grow. (Nitrates == Nitrogen based chemicals.) So it should actually be positive for the soil rather than negative. I stress *should* because without knowing the exact chemical composition, it's hard to understand if there are any hidden problems with this technique.

One thing I am worried about, though, is the color of these sidewalks. If they're using titanium dioxide, shouldn't they be a nice brown color? (Think: Coffee, cola, and other brown liquids.) I don't know about anyone else, but a brown sidewalk or street is not my idea of "attractive". (I presume the "green" bricks used in this trial have been painted or stained with an even more powerful pigment.) Of course, given the natural color of titanium dioxide, perhaps this technique is intended for use with blacktop rather than concrete as suggested by the article? In which case the brown would be unnoticeable. That would also jive with the replacement time for these roadways as any passive chemical solution is going to become less effective after a few years of use.

It would be nice if the article had more of these details.

Re:Nitrates? (4, Informative)

bcattwoo (737354) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498661)

"One thing I am worried about, though, is the color of these sidewalks. If they're using titanium dioxide, shouldn't they be a nice brown color?"

Actually titanium dioxide is quite white. It is used as pigment for white base paint.

Re:Nitrates? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498795)

You're right. Thanks for pointing that out. I was confusing titanium dioxide with titanic acid. In which case, this compound should make for some rather gleaming streets! :-)

Re:Nitrates? (1)

SirMeliot (864836) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499025)

At school many years ago we went to visit a plant that produced the stuff. Even the grass outside the building was covered in white.

Re:Nitrates? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24499049)

One thing I am worried about, though, is the color of these sidewalks. If they're using titanium dioxide, shouldn't they be a nice brown color?

They are going to balance it out with uranyl nitrate to give the sidewalks a bright yellow color.

Re:Nitrates? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499133)

perhaps this technique is intended for use with blacktop rather than concrete as suggested by the article?

I would imagine it wouldn't work very well with asphalt concrete because the asphalt would coat the titanium particles and block the NOx from getting to them.

Re:Nitrates? (5, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498829)

Anything is harmful in the wrong place and in the wrong concentrations. Nitrates are, for example harmful to fish in high concentrations.

Most systems have processes that are limited by the supply of some resource. Ocean ecosystems are nitrogen limited, whereas fresh water systems tend to be phosphorous limited. Thus if the nitrates are washed off into fresh water, they'll cause relatively little immediate damage unless the concentrations are high enough to be toxic. However, if that nitrate is carried downstream to the ocean, the plume of nitrogen rich water entering the ocean can cause blooms of organisms that use up so much oxygen that fin fish suffocate. This happens where the Mississippi enters the gulf.

So, how and where something like this is used makes a difference. If you imagine all the US cities along the Mississippi and its tributaries using it, and if there is a mechanism by which the nitrates make it into the rivers, then this could make the situation in the Gulf much worse. If you use it in a coastal city and only the runoff from that city affects the local ocean, the amount of nitrogen entering the ocean might or might not have any measurable effect.

Re:Nitrates? (2, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499081)

Nitrates? Aren't those bad in their own right? I'm thinking along the lines of fertilizer run-off and the affect it has on algae in oceans. Could this solution create worse problems?

Well they make plants grow and that cuts down on the CO2.

Re:Nitrates? (2, Informative)

bryce4president (1247134) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499187)

I knew somebody would say this... Its not the nitrates that do the harm, its the phosphates... Just a couple weeks ago this was reinforced... Source [slashdot.org]

Re:Nitrates? (2, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499365)

Of [epa.gov]
  course [epa.gov]
  nitrates [wi.gov]
  are [state.wi.us]
  harmless! [state.ne.us]

Re:Nitrates? (1)

avandesande (143899) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499303)

Nitrogon oxides eventually end up as nitrates, the TIO just speeds up the process.

Re:Nitrates? (1)

amper (33785) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499343)

Yes, this is a problem. Take a look at any of the information available online about nutrient contamination of the Chesapeake Bay.

http://www.fws.gov/chesapeakebay/nutrient.htm [fws.gov]

How green? (4, Insightful)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498317)

This sounds like a great idea if it works, but surely producing concrete is a far from 'green' process. I wonder how long the concrete has to be in place to neutralise the polluting effect of manufacturing it in the first place.

Re:How green? (5, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498377)

This sounds like a great idea if it works, but surely producing concrete is a far from 'green' process. I wonder how long the concrete has to be in place to neutralise the polluting effect of manufacturing it in the first place.

But we are producing concrete anyway, so we'll still be ahead as long as this process does not produce more pollution than the pollution from standard concrete + whatever it absorbs.

Re:How green? (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498469)

as opposed to concrete that doesn't clean the air at all?

Re:How green? (1)

shaka999 (335100) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498575)

Minimizing total pollution is a great goal but for human habitation the location of the pollution matters as well. This would decrease pollution in cities where the concentration is the highest.

As others have said, we are making concrete anyways...

Re:How green? (5, Funny)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498641)

What do you suggest paving the road with? Grass? Good intentions?

Re:How green? (3, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498983)

Everyone knows that hubris is the best paving material, duh.

Offset (1)

i_liek_turtles (1110703) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498325)

Well, it's not as though we don't already use titanium dioxide in toothpaste, paper, and paint... [wikipedia.org] (slashdot not working right for me, so can't reply directly)

Offset may be ideal (1)

ArtemaOne (1300025) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498359)

I know nothing about this stuff, but wouldn't offset be ideal if nothing else? Areas immediately around roads are some of the worst air to breathe. I doubt this takes the asbestos from brakes out of the air though, so busy intersections will still be horrible. I wonder which is worse, a cooking fire inside a hut (black carbon) or a busy road?

Re:Offset may be ideal (2, Informative)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499103)

I doubt this takes the asbestos from brakes out of the air though

They haven't used asbestos in brake linings [wikipedia.org] for a long time.

Re:Offset may be ideal (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499359)

I have a few mechanic friends who still use the asbestos pads because they work better (according to them, this came up a couple of days ago at the coffee shop). So unless they are completely wrong, there is still asbestos in some brake pads.

Exact location (4, Informative)

oever (233119) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498403)

The road is here [google.com] according to a Dutch source [nieuwsbank.nl] .

Re:Exact location (1)

dtml-try MyNick (453562) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498749)

Ironic.
I live in, according to various sources, the most air polluted area of the Netherlands. The whole neighborhood is undergoing re-pavement as we speak. And where do they place these tiles?
Right.. in one of the more greener cities of the country.
Seems to me it should have been a no-brainer to where to test these tiles.

Side effects (1)

StreetStealth (980200) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498429)

Is industrial development and research at a point now where we don't have to worry about suddenly discovering an airborne carcinogenic byproduct from the reaction in about 10 years?

If this is both safe and effective, it's a major breakthrough.

The results are in (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24498459)

The scientists driving around to check their air sampling monitors negates any positive effect produced by the concrete.

Human Problems? (1)

strimpster (1074645) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498493)

After reading the article, it appears that the nitrates just run off after a rain. Where do they go to? local bodies of water. Reading the Wikipedia article for nitrates, there are negatives from exposure to nitrates in drinking water, especially for infants. I'm not sure how much is too much, or how much this method produces, but it may be cause for concern. Also, depending on how much this produces, there may be an increase in algae blooms.

Re:Human Problems? (2, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499035)

Even if the nitrates DO wash into the local drinking water and there is a demonstrably bad effect, it still might be a good idea; the health effects of breathing smog might still be worse.

Re:Human Problems? (4, Interesting)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499425)

1. Pave road with this stuff.
2. Drive diesel cars on roads.
3. Nitrates -> algae blooms in marshes just off road sids.
4. Harvest algae and press to make bio-diesel.
5. Profit.

Too bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24498495)

...because concrete is one of the major sources of anthropogenic carbon dioxide.

harmless nitrates ? (5, Informative)

cinnamon colbert (732724) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498515)

not to mention all the side products that are produced, msot of which i am willing to bet havenot even been identified, much less studied

J Environ Qual. 2008 Feb 11;37(2):291-5. Print 2008 Mar-Apr.Click here to read Links
        When does nitrate become a risk for humans?
        Powlson DS, Addiscott TM, Benjamin N, Cassman KG, de Kok TM, van Grinsven H, L'Hirondel JL, Avery AA, van Kessel C.

        Soil Science Dep, Rothamsted Research, Harpenden, Herts, UK.

        Is nitrate harmful to humans? Are the current limits for nitrate concentration in drinking water justified by science? There is substantial disagreement among scientists over the interpretation of evidence on the issue. There are two main health issues: the linkage between nitrate and (i) infant methaemoglobinaemia, also known as blue baby syndrome, and (ii) cancers of the digestive tract. The evidence for nitrate as a cause of these serious diseases remains controversial. On one hand there is evidence that shows there is no clear association between nitrate in drinking water and the two main health issues with which it has been linked, and there is even evidence emerging of a possible benefit of nitrate in cardiovascular health. There is also evidence of nitrate intake giving protection against infections such as gastroenteritis. Some scientists suggest that there is sufficient evidence for increasing the permitted concentration of nitrate in drinking water without increasing risks to human health. However, subgroups within a population may be more susceptible than others to the adverse health effects of nitrate. Moreover, individuals with increased rates of endogenous formation of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds are likely to be susceptible to the development of cancers in the digestive system. Given the lack of consensus, there is an urgent need for a comprehensive, independent study to determine whether the current nitrate limit for drinking water is scientifically justified or whether it could safely

Re:harmless nitrates ? (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499269)

>Moreover, individuals with increased rates of endogenous formation of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds are likely to be susceptible to the development of cancers in the digestive system.

My memory of organic chemistry is that consumption of nitrites, not nitrates, results in formation of endogenous N-nitroso compounds, but I may be wrong.

Re:harmless nitrates ? (1)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499315)

Well, you'd rather have it in the air?

Two problems (3, Insightful)

snarfies (115214) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498517)

1) From TFA: "'With one rain shower everything is washed clean,' the institution said in a statement." Ah, but exactly WHAT is washed to WHERE, eh? Are we just trading off air pollution for water pollution?

2) How durable is this new substance? How much pollution can the road suck up before it wears out? Will it need to be resurfaced and/or replaced every year? Two years?

Re:Two problems (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498835)

Sounds to me like the nitrates will accumulate and then be washed away. They in themselves might not be so beneficial in concentrated form, but perhaps if they installed gutters the nitrates could then be used elsewhere. In many cases I believe that nitrates etc are beneficial for enriching plant soil, etc, we just don't want it creating massive amounts of unpleasant algae in the local watersheds.

Re:Two problems (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499057)

we just don't want it creating massive amounts of unpleasant algae in the local watersheds.

"From Smog to the Bog"

Re:Two problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24499357)

2) How durable is this new substance? How much pollution can the road suck up before it wears out? Will it need to be resurfaced and/or replaced every year? Two years?

The road surface is probably acting as a catalyst, so it shouldn't wear out chemically. With cars driving over it, that's another story.

Re:Two problems (1)

Greenmoon (656273) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499371)

How durable is this new substance? How much pollution can the road suck up before it wears out? ...

I don't think that it sucks up anything. I think the material acts as a catalyst, not a sponge.

"harmless nitrates" (1)

mattpm (1135875) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498521)

I, for one, welcome our new Dutch Concrete overlords.

This isn't that new (3, Informative)

Devon Dan (1012105) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498533)

This stuff isn't that new. It definately has been sold for quite a while under the name TX Active [ http://www.italcementigroup.com/ENG/Media+and+Communication/News/Corporate+events/20060228.htm [italcementigroup.com] ]. They used it to make the Air France head quarters at Charles de Gaulle Airport a few years back. http://www.physorg.com/news67012896.html [physorg.com]

Re:This isn't that new (1)

j_snare (220372) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498889)

You know, reading these two kinda puts the article from the summary in perspective. They have even less information about how it works than it does! Still, thanks for finding these, maybe we can find some more information based on the additional information here.

like the song... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24498601)

Paved Paradise, put up a (purifying) parking lot

Wow, cool idea! (5, Funny)

bill_kress (99356) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498613)

Maybe we could do even better.

Hmm, since we're being green anyway, lets eliminate some of the cars--then perhaps we could make the concrete softer to walk on.

We could use some other color but grey--yuck. Maybe green to represent the fact that it purifies the air.

Being softer, it would be nice if it had some kind of self-patching mechanism...

As long as it's going to be self-patching, let's get really sci-fi and have it create itself using some kind of a system involving materials from underneath itself in some kind of a synthesis process.

Damn, I'm thinking way too far ahead--our science will never get to the point where it can do this stuff. Guess I'll have to be happy with air-purifying concrete.

Re:Wow, cool idea! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498961)

So you grow all of your own food and don't rely on trucking for any of your other needs?

Color me impressed. Who ships computers by rickshaw?

Re:Wow, cool idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24499153)

Impressed is a texture, not a colour. Hold still while I get my hammer.

Re:Wow, cool idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24499045)

One small problem with cities is that there is a thing called destinations. One thing about this is that people tend to walk in the same place over and over again.
I have never seen "green concrete" with a self-patching mechanism good enough to be used on areas made for walking, perhaps if we removed the walls from all building so that we didn't have dedicated entrances.

Re:Wow, cool idea! (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499119)

I know you are joking, and it was actually pretty funny...

But grass makes a terrible surface for any high-traffic area. Look at what they have to do in New York's Central Park just to keep grass on all the lawns. They have to fence off areas, reseed, re-sod, fertilize and poison the holy hell out of everything.

Di34 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#24498701)

goal h3re? How can

Too bad it's not ready... (1)

Ken_g6 (775014) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498705)

for the Beijing Olympics this year.

Hong Kong Polytechnic (4, Interesting)

quanminoan (812306) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498713)

I did some research for school over in Hong Kong for a few months and worked with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Civil Engineering Dep. They used titanium dioxide coatings on bricks and highway noise barriers - actually in use in Hong Kong. They also have attached titanium dioxide nanoparticles to textiles to make filtering clothing:

http://www.polyu.edu.hk/cpa/polyu/hotnews/details_et.php?year=all&news_id=255 [polyu.edu.hk]

http://www1.polyu.edu.hk/hotnews/details_e.php?year=all&news_id=964 [polyu.edu.hk]

It's great to see it catching on...

Don't worry, though. It's completely harmless. (4, Informative)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498783)

Harmless... [wikipedia.org]

In freshwater or estuarine systems close to land, nitrate can reach high levels that can potentially cause the death of fish. While nitrate is much less toxic than ammonia or nitrite, levels over 30 ppm of nitrate can inhibit growth, impair the immune system and cause stress in some aquatic species.[citation needed] However, in light of inherent problems with past protocols on acute nitrate toxicity experiments, the extent of nitrate toxicity has been the subject of recent debate.

In most cases of excess nitrate concentrations in aquatic systems, the primary source is surface runoff from agricultural or landscaped areas which have received excess nitrate fertilizer. These levels of nitrate can also lead to algae blooms, and when nutrients become limiting (such as potassium, phosphate or nitrate) then eutrophication can occur. As well as leading to water anoxia, these blooms may cause other changes to ecosystem function, favouring some groups of organisms over others. Consequently, as nitrates form a component of total dissolved solids, they are widely used as an indicator of water quality.

What could possibly go wrong, though? It's not like roadways are "surfaces" that might "runoff" into storm sewers or waterways.

air treatment (2, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498847)

why not get some crop dusters and fit them to release a fine powder of this air cleaning agent at high altitude above cities that have smog & air pollution problems?

what will it do to ground water and lakes & rivers? maybe clean them too?

What? (1, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#24498893)

As a biologist I take exception to the phrase "harmless nitrates"!

      It may not have anything to do with greenhouse gasses, but more nitrates in rivers and ground-water is the last thing humanity needs.

Groundwater Pollution (1)

Skjellifetti (561341) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499117)

Great. Now the nitrates are washed off by rainwater where it gets into the groundwater. The Dutch already have a significant problem with nitrate polluted groundwater due to farm animal wastes. The country has about 15 million people (versus about 8 million in Georgia) living in an area about a fourth the size of Georgia. They share the land with 4.7 million cattle, 13.4 million pigs, 44 million laying hens, 41 million broilers, and 1.7 million sheep. Altogether, those animals produce three to four times more manure than is needed to fertilize the country. The nitrate pollution problem is large enough and environmental regs are becoming strict enough that Dutch farmers are moving to midwest states in the U.S. with Right-To-Farm laws and far fewer environmental regs on farms. Dutch owned factory farm egg operations have caused several significant waste runoff problems in Ohio. Tell me again how this new fangled concrete solves the nitrate problem?

harmless nitrates? (1)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499217)

The province I live in is currently going nuts over nitrate levels in the groundwater, high levels are a possible cause of cancer and can damage a person's health in other ways too.

Nitrates not so harmless! But it won't work anyway (2, Insightful)

GPS Pilot (3683) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499283)

the additive binds the nitrogen oxide particles emitted by car exhausts and turns them into harmless nitrates. "With one rain shower everything is washed clean," the institution said

Hmm... the New York Times says [nytimes.com] nitrates are "a dangerous and increasingly widespread pollutant... reaching dangerous levels in groundwater".

It seems environmentalists hold wildly diverging opinions on this.

If the NYT is correct, it's fortunate that this "air purifying concrete" is not likely to be very effective. You see, only a small percentage of the NOx molecules are going to come in contact with the road surface (which makes them eligible for conversion to nitrates). The titanium dioxide in the concrete is not able to reach out and grab NOx molecules floating one meter or even one millimeter above the road. I predict the air quality measurements will show very little difference, and the media will never report on this idea again.

For the system to be effective... (4, Insightful)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499347)

Nitrates don't need to be harmless, nor there needs to be zero side effects. All that's needed is that the combined damage produced by any side effects must be less than the damage produced by the excess carbon dioxide in lieu of said concrete.

Funny how any time there is a proposed innovation to solve a problem, there are always nitpickers who point out side effects without considering their proportion compared to the original problem being solved. A solution either offers a net benefit, or it doesn't.

Wouldn't it make more sense too... (2, Interesting)

Dex5791 (973984) | more than 5 years ago | (#24499449)

Put this titanium dioxide-based additive in the exhaust systems?
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