In a joint effort, the EU’s Joint Research Centre, research institutions and researchers from private enterprises are developing smart construction materials capable of absorbing and eliminating pollution. The EU views these materials as a key tool in meeting the EU target of reducing nitrogen oxide levels to under 21ppb by 2010.
The PICADA (photocatalytic innovative coverings applications for depollution assessment) project, representing an investment of Euro3.4m, is working with materials including plaster, mortar and architectural concrete containing titanium dioxide (TiO2). This chemical is able to capture organic and inorganic pollutants after they have been exposed to UV or solar rays. EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin commented : “Smart coatings can cause a revolution, not only in the management of air pollution but also in how architects and town planners tackle the persistent problem of urban smog.”
The materials have yet to be used outside of laboratory testing conditions, but preliminary tests with similar substances in field conditions hold the promise of significantly improved air quality.