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Titanium Dioxide concrete  (Source: Treehugger)
Could improve breathing, but costs 50 percent more than regular concrete

Eindhoven University of Technology (EUT) researchers revealed that 45 percent of nitrogen oxides on the road can be removed by creating a roadway made with concrete that is blended with titanium dioxide.  

The study was conducted by the EUT in the Netherlands on a 1,000-square-meter repaved road. Jos Brouwers, professor of building materials at the EUT, noted that the air-purifying test in the new pavement proved to be effective in the laboratory, and has now proved to be effective outdoors as well.

When tested outdoors in the town of Hengelo, the pavement blended with titanium dioxide showed a 25 to 45 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide that came in contact with it as opposed to regular concrete. Titanium dioxide is a photocatalytic material that grabs airborne nitrogen oxides and converts it to harmless nitrates with the help of the sun, and it is washed away by the rain. In addition, the mixed material breaks down dirt and algae, so it is sure to stay clean. 

The cost of lacing titanium dioxide into the concrete costs approximately 50 percent more than traditional concrete, but the increase total road-building costs is only 10 percent. 

The idea of adding titanium dioxide to concrete is not a new concept. In 2007, Italian company Italcementi developed a cement that was also laced with titanium dioxide, and could neutralize certain harmful pollutants. It's called TX Active, and when exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light, the titanium dioxide transforms any nitrogen oxides or sulfur oxides into harmless nitrates or sulfates which can be washed away by rainwater, much like the titanium dioxide mix that EUT researchers are testing in the Netherlands right now.

Researchers at the EUT are still conducting additional testing, but see a lot of advantages to using titanium dioxide-mixed concrete that could help people breathe cleaner air. But despite these advantages, it will take awhile for this project to come into effect due to the time and cost it will take to repave every road. 

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concrete roads
By mattclary on 7/13/2010 8:14:07 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think concrete roads are really all that common, are they? Asphalt is much better due to it's slight elasticity, I believe. Will this work with asphalt?

RE: concrete roads
By Brandon Hill on 7/13/2010 8:21:39 AM , Rating: 3
I know around here in NC, when new interstates/bypasses are built, they're usually done with concrete. When they're redoing existing roads (where people are still traveling), they just repave with asphalt.

Now that's just my observation in the RTP area.

RE: concrete roads
By VahnTitrio on 7/13/2010 10:35:04 AM , Rating: 3
This is pretty common. You can pave with asphalt overnight and have it ready for rush hour traffic in the morning. To repave with concrete results in lane closures resulting in huge traffic delays (at least says the guy who's been driving through road construction to work since 2002, they claim to be finished July 20th though).

Another question is how well does this stuff survive winters? Not just chemically, but weather-wise and durability-wise. The last thing you want is something that would aid in the formation of black ice, or decrease the already pathetic lifespan of pavement around here. I'm just waiting for some snowplow-proof retroreflective lane markers around here.

RE: concrete roads
By mattclary on 7/13/2010 8:24:49 AM , Rating: 2
RE: concrete roads
By quiksilvr on 7/13/2010 8:58:41 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder if mixing in this titatium dioxide additive will help with the handling on concrete roads during strong weather conditions. My guess is not that much, but any improvement would be great.

RE: concrete roads
By knutjb on 7/13/2010 2:31:00 PM , Rating: 2
Rain on concrete roads lifts up the oil and that's why its slippery. As for snow any surface will be slippery, I have lived in snowy regions for many years and concrete has the advantage in durability with snow plows and chains. Asphalt being black warms up faster and dries or melts the ice more quickly, there is also some anecdotal evidence that asphalt highways, because of the heat they absorb, affects local weather, i.e. storm systems following the same path as the highway.

RE: concrete roads
By KillerNoodle on 7/13/2010 8:32:44 AM , Rating: 2
It seems as if all of Michigan's highways are concrete.
Just drove from Northern Virginia to Michigan Sunday and can actually say that concrete is used on a majority of the highways and interstates on my route.

If I head to southern Virgina they become predominantly asphalt (81, 95, 64).

RE: concrete roads
By nvalhalla on 7/13/2010 9:57:32 AM , Rating: 2
We need all the durability we can get. We repave roads a lot in MI, our weather takes a heavy toll.

RE: concrete roads
By RedemptionAD on 7/13/2010 9:19:45 PM , Rating: 2
From what I understand there is a simple coated rebar that we should be using in MI that is a minimal cost increase that increases durability dramatically. I believe they use it in roads in europe. I can't remember the coating but it prevents the cracking and car swallowing potholes that we see here in MI.

RE: concrete roads
By Silver2k7 on 7/13/2010 10:38:36 AM , Rating: 2
In scandinavia concrete roads are not very common anyway..

Id rather see some followup to the titanium pentoxide optical discs, with 200x blu-ray capacity :)

RE: concrete roads
By SoCalBoomer on 7/13/2010 1:58:43 PM , Rating: 2
they're what the freeways here in Southern California are made of. . . and if it makes them stronger and last longer, even better - ours have so many potholes that it's pitiful.

Could create another problem down the "road"
By tmouse on 7/13/2010 8:39:22 AM , Rating: 3
Titanium dioxide is an IARC Group 2B carcinogen "possibly carcinogen to humans". Now in its solid form it presents no real danger but if they have to break it up the dust could be a real problem. In reality they would just asphalt over it for repairs which would reduce its effectivness. Add in to the equasion the effects of sulfite and nitrite runoff into the water tables. These chemicals produce direct chemical demands on oxygen in the water due to the oxidation-reduction reactions that result. Dissolved oxygen levels lower than 3 parts per million are stressful to most aquatic organisms, and dramatic events like fish kills can result when there is excessive demand on dissolved oxygen in an ecosystem. You have your choice bad air or bad water.

By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 7/13/2010 9:48:02 AM , Rating: 4
Titanium dioxide is also the pigment that makes white paint white. Ban white!

By lamerz4391 on 7/13/2010 10:36:48 AM , Rating: 2

(j/k by the way)

By tmouse on 7/14/2010 7:50:55 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, I'm well aware of that. I NEVER said BAN anything. Note I said in its concrete slab form it is not a problem, BUT the dust is in animal studies, and if a slab of this material was being jackhammered it could cause problems. Likewise in paint it's not a problem, if you inhale paint you have a different problem.

Nitrate run off . . . bad?
By Bateluer on 7/13/2010 8:19:09 AM , Rating: 2
"the titanium dioxide transforms any nitrogen oxides or sulfur oxides into harmless nitrates or sulfates which can be washed away by rainwater"

Err, isn't that bad too? I mean, isn't nitrate runoff from fertilizers in the Mississippi River(and others) that empty into the Gulf responsible for the 'dead zones'? Pre-Oil Spill, anyway.

RE: Nitrate run off . . . bad?
By BZDTemp on 7/13/2010 9:58:25 AM , Rating: 2

Nitrates works as fertilizer which prompts increased algae growth which again can offset the life balance in lakes, rivers and eventually the seas. This often causes depletion of oxygen in the water which again creates what is know as "dead zones" (areas with no marine life at all).

By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 7/13/2010 12:01:07 PM , Rating: 2
But.... that photosynthetic algae is busy removing carbon dioxide from the air, so its good for the planet as a whole. If everybody would dump sewage into the ocean, global warming would disappear!

Reduce the cost
By Regected on 7/13/2010 8:52:42 AM , Rating: 3
This does not need to be mixed in the concrete. It could easily be dusted across the surface of the wet concrete after leveling, but before the texture is worked. This would mix it into the top inch or so of concrete without significant cost increases.

RE: Reduce the cost
By alanore on 7/13/2010 2:18:16 PM , Rating: 3
Why not just build them into exhausts? You could have a section in the exhaust, like a catalytic converter. All you need is a titanium oxide coated mesh with a UV lamp, it could even be made as a direct replacement for the back box.

Catalytic converter?
By troysavary on 7/13/2010 5:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
There are already catalysts in a car's exhaust system that remove most of the harmful emissions. (Note, CO2 is NOT a harmful emission.) Modern cars actually produce very little in the way of pollution if they are well maintained. As more and more older cars are retired, and replaced with cleaner cars, the need for this concrete seems to me to be non-existent except for in some problem spots. All in all, it does not seem to have a cost to benefit ratio to make it viable to start resurfacing tens of thousands of miles of roadways.

RE: Catalytic converter?
By diggernash on 7/13/2010 8:10:39 PM , Rating: 2
Found under sham: snake oil, radon detectors, lead paint detection kits, asbestos removal, and now titanium dioxide pavement.

What a perfectly impartial, science based world we live in...LOL.

Could it be used on buildings?
By nmrahde on 7/13/2010 10:01:51 PM , Rating: 2
What sort of effect does this have on the concrete mix, I wonder?

If it doesn't affect it too negatively couldn't it be used in building construction? Or at least coating?

That way it could help reduce smog in major metropolitan areas and it wouldn't be subject to the stresses of constantly being driven over.

By diggernash on 7/14/2010 1:53:20 AM , Rating: 2
The addition tends to reduce the cost/benefit ratio of the structure. Not sure that I see any other effect.

By owyheewine on 7/13/2010 9:42:37 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds like a whitewash to me.

By knutjb on 7/13/2010 2:20:36 PM , Rating: 2
A few years back Ford was experimenting with a special plating on their radiators to kill ozone from exhaust. It was pretty pricey though.

Why can't this be used in the car's exhaust with a UV light?

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