New Nanoparticle Coating Eats Air Pollutants

Scientists at a Spanish university have created a material which could be painted on to concrete surfaces to reduce substantial amounts of air pollutants emitted into the atmosphere.

What's the Latest Development?

A research project sponsored by the Spanish Ministry for the Economy and Competitiveness has yielded a coating of nanoparticles which, once applied to concrete surfaces, could eliminate substantial amounts of air pollutants in the atmosphere. The material has a built-in property such that "when the sunlight hits it, it produces free radicals on its surface that attack the air pollutants, specifically the monoxides and the nitrogen oxides," said Javier Goicoechea, a scientist at the University of Navarre. Due to its porous surface, concrete is an ideal place to apply the coating, taking advantage of an increased surface area. 

What's the Big Idea? 

To enable commercial production of the new nanosubstance, scientists want to create a solution as close to paint as possible so that it can be applied on-site, is relatively cheap and sufficiently tough to withstand the elements. "The good thing," said Goicoechea, "is that we are talking about very thin coatings of less than a micron (a millionth part of a metre) and which adapt very well to the profile of the material." In tests, the coating was highly successful and the research groups estimates it could eliminate 90% of nitrogen oxides, 80% of hydrocarbons, and 75% of carbon monoxides emitted into the atmosphere. 

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