Green, eco-friendly products are increasing in number and in prominence as the importance of green living grows in the minds of consumers. The sales of hybrid cars continue to grow and even electric cars are coming to the market. Environmentally conscious consumers are conserving energy with green home upgrades and reducing the consumption of fuel by developing more efficient driving habits. Larger numbers of communities are recycling plastic, paper, and glass in increasing amounts every year.
Innovative, eco-friendly products are entering the market across a wide range of industries. In alternative energy, roof-mounted solar panels, home-based wind turbines, and even back yard geothermal heat pumps are being marketed direct to homeowners as a way to reduce power consumption. Renewable fuels that include produced from corn and sugar cane and biodiesel produced from plant oils are already marketed world-wide to displace fuel derived from petroleum.
But could a product as mundane as concrete be green and eco-friendly? The answer is yes.
Thanks to work done by Dutch researchers at the University if Eindhoven, a concrete that actually purifies the air has been developed. The secret to this special concrete is that it incorporates titanium dioxide, a fairly common substance used, for example, in sunscreens for its ability to completely block ultraviolet light. Used in the production of concrete, however, titanium dioxide does something completely different: it breaks down nitrogen dioxide, a ubiquitous pollutant in the exhaust of motor vehicles. Titanium dioxide functions as a catalyst in the presence of sunlight to convert nitrogen dioxide to the much more environmentally benign nitrate.
This so-called air-purifying concrete has been road tested. A 10,000 square foot section of a busy highway was resurfaced using the new air-purifying concrete and air purity measurements were taken and compared to sections of the same highway that had not been resurfaced. The concentration of NOx, the more toxic derivatives of nitrogen dioxide, were found to be 25-percent to 45 percent lower in the areas that had the air-purifying concrete surface.
Aside from the reduction in toxic nitrogen oxides, the new paving material also has another advantage. The titanium dioxide containing concrete is able to break down algae and dirt, avoiding accumulations and keeping the road cleaner.
Also positive is the cost projection for the new material, which according to the researchers would only raise road building costs about 10%. The concrete stones used in the tests are already commercially available, produced by the paving stone manufacturer Struyk Verwo Infra.
Eco-innovation continues at a rapid pace. Today we have eco-friendly concrete. What will there be in the near future?
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From Steve Stillwater, Green Living Enthusiast.