Californian students create tiles that can reduce smog

Engineering students in California have invented a coating for roof tiles that can eliminate nitrogen oxides associated with the formation of smog.

The students estimate that, when used to tile the roof of an average-sized US home, the slates could break down enough nitrogen oxides in a year to equal those emitted by a car that has been driven for 11,000 miles.

The students, who carried out their research at the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, created their pollution-eliminating coating out of titanium dioxide (TiO2). They calculated that the amount of TiO2 required to make enough coating to cover an average roof should only cost around $5 (just under £3).

Covering the roofs of one million houses with coated tiles would remove 21 tons of nitrogen oxides from the air every day, making a substantial reduction in pollution.

Currently, 500 tons of nitrogen oxides are released into the atmosphere every day in Southern California. The chemical is produced by the combustion of certain fuels. In the presence of sunlight, the oxides react with other organic compounds, creating smog.

In April, councillors on the Wirral, UK, announced that they were working hard to reduce air pollution after unusually high levels affected much of England and Wales, including the Wirral. Architects in Britain have yet to embrace the use of tiles to purify the air, but energy efficient and sustainable building design is helping to create a better environment throughout the country.

Posted by Adam Lloyd
August 7, 2014

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