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. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


1 in 100 water molecules started in solar nebulae

New research identifies an unexpected source for some of earth's water.

Surprising Science
  • A lot of Earth's water is asteroidal in origin, but some of it may come from dissolved solar nebula gas.
  • Our planet hides majority of its water inside: two oceans in the mantle and 4–5 in the core.
  • New reason to suspect that water is abundant throughout the universe.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Elon Musk's SpaceX approved to launch 7,518 Starlink satellites into orbit

SpaceX plans to launch about 12,000 internet-providing satellites into orbit over the next six years.

Technology & Innovation
  • SpaceX plans to launch 1,600 satellites over the next few years, and to complete its full network over the next six.
  • Blanketing the globe with wireless internet-providing satellites could have big implications for financial institutions and people in rural areas.
  • Some are concerned about the proliferation of space debris in Earth's orbit.
Keep reading Show less