• Jul 12, 2010
Researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology (EUT) may be on the brink of discovering a breakthrough that will lead to reduced pollution and cleaner air for all. According to the EUT, a roadway made of concrete blended with titanium dioxide can effectively remove up to 45 percent of the nitrogen oxides that it comes in contact with. The titanium dioxide, a photocatalytic material, captures airborne nitrogen oxides and, with the aid of the sun, converts it to nitrates that are harmlessly washed away by the rain.

The EUT conducted real-world studies on a 1,000-square-meter section of repaved road in the Netherlands. Such testing showed that the laced pavement could reduce nitrogen oxides by 25 to 45 percent more than traditional concrete. As Jos Brouwers, professor of building materials at the EUT remarked, "The air-purifying properties of the new paving stones had already been shown in the laboratory, but these results now show that they also work outdoors."

Additional testing is still underway and although the pavement laced with titanium dioxide does cost some 50 percent more than regular cement, overall road-building costs only increase by a marginal 10 percent. Costs aside, the advantages of the titanium dioxide are readily apparent, but the implementation of such a product requires repaving our roadways – a time intensive and costly endeavor.

[Source: Eindhoven University of Technology]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 23 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      sounds good, but there are states and (large) cities here in the US who can't even afford the crudest of some strange technology named "paved" roads.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Judy
        Titanium Oxide isn't very expensive (but prices have been going up) at currently less than $3 per kilogram on the open market. And depending on how much Titanium oxide is used, it wouldn't even amount to anywhere near 1% of the cost of building a road. Might actually be one of the more cost effective ways to combat NOx (ignoring any consequences). It's certainly one of the easiest ways.

        But paul34 does bring up a very valid point about the nitrates. Might not be a significant amount of nitrates? Or it's simply down to a choice of which is the lesser evil?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Imagine for a moment the true cost of this. Imagine the road building budget of the average city (hint it is one of the largest parts of their budget which is why so many are so far behind). Now imagine 10% of that. Now add up the cost across your country. While we are at the statistics this pavement will still leave behind at least 65% of Nox and does nothing to other polluting gases. We also have no idea long term the effects of these chemicals. I have no interest in having them add to the chemical soup I am already forced to live in.

        It is quite simply far cheaper to continue to engineer cleaner cars. Last time my vehicle was checked they could barely detect anything from the tailpipe. The biggest problem on the roads is old vehicles and poorly maintained new ones.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Judy- NOx is really a much bigger European problem than an American one. In European cities, especially, I could see this having a measurable effect on air quality, especially combined with the soot filter requirements in place in many urban centers now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I wonder if this technology were to be further developed if there might be a more affordable 'top coat' that could be applied for states and cities that can't afford to redo the whole road? Either way, good for major highways, etc. going forward...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Minnesota already features this concrete technology on their new "35W Bridge". The decorative concrete pillars use titanium dioxide for the same reason.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "but the implementation of such a product requires repaving our roadways – a time intensive and costly endeavor."

      I'm in Canada, and there are two seasons, winter and construction, and the construction season usually includes repaving roads after they are torn apart from the other season.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ BRUNO:

        The Romans also didn't have hundreds of thousands of 3000lb+ vehicles(not to mention semi trucks) travelling their roads at high speeds daily. That comparison is absolutely laughable.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Bruno

        Believe all you want, but the reality is that winter is harsh on roads. There is no uniformity as to what's under the road itself, and each different material under the road will expand or contract with heat differently, which will cause cracks, bumps, holes and gouges in the roadway. If 100m of road was built on bedrock, and the next 100m was built on clay, and they were laid the same day, in a couple years, the one on clay will move and shift and deteriorate, where the length built on bedrock may not have moved. Beliefs and reality are different things in many cases.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Are you implying that our harsh winters are tough on our roads? If so, I totally disagree because I believe that the technology is out there for our intense winter season. I also believe it's not in the interest of companies to build such roads. If the Romans did it why not us?
      • 4 Years Ago
      "nitrates that are harmlessly washed away by the rain."

      It might be worth noting that nitrates are not altogether harmless. Nitrates used in fertilizers on farms that wash into near-by bodies of water have been a serious issues for quite some time. I don't know what the concentration comparisons are between fertilizer runoff and this new technology, but I would hope that this is examined.
        • 4 Years Ago
        great comment, but I have to say every time I read one of your comments I read it in the voice of Carl.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @ nighttime

        when i write my comments, Carl's voice is in my head.
      • 4 Years Ago
      EUT should first......
      Do a study of the effects of titanium dioxide being washed into our eco-system.
      Then we can talk.

      Cart, horse
      • 4 Years Ago
      Waste of money. NOx low enough.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Hasn't Ford been experimenting with a similar concept in which the radiator of a car is treated in the same way? As the car moves along, the air pushed through the radiator counteracts the nitrates released by the exhaust pipe of the cars in front of and around it. I think they may have already begun using the process on some of their cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Then there are the concrete fins on the new bridge in Minneapolis that is supposed to do something similar.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It was Volvo that experimented with coating the radiator with some type of rare earth metal (like one of those used in a three-way catalyst) to remove sodium dioxide (I think) from the air. I don't know if it ever made it to production, though.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I was just going to say ....

        (Only I thought it was Volvo or Saab that was putting it on their rads)
      • 4 Years Ago
      The effects are already known, since titanium dioxide is the standard white pigment used in anything from paint (even colors use it in their base), to toothpaste, even sunblock for babies. I don't suggest painting the road white, that would be blinding.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I know that this comment has anything to do with the article, but is that a Fiat Uno?
        • 4 Years Ago
        the picture seems a bit outdated, the Uno was registered about 22 years ago, in Cremona
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, the brazilian cities are infested with thousands of it...
    • Load More Comments