CORDOBA – There is hope for cities struggling with high levels of air pollution. Spanish researchers have developed a new building material that is capable to purify the air.
The material can have a significant impact on air quality in urban areas. This is especially in major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, where air pollution is particularly high. Air pollution, especially in urban areas, remains one of the biggest health risks in Spain and the rest of the world. It not only contributes to global warming, but also causes approximately seven million premature deaths worldwide every year.
New materials for air purification
The research team from the University of Córdoba, affiliated with the Instituto Universitario de Química para la Energía y Medioambiente (IQUEMA), has developed a new chemical compound capable of purifying the air. This groundbreaking material has been revealed in the scientific journal Applied Catalysis B: Environmental.
The special thing about this new material is its photocatalytic property, which allows it to purify the air through the walls even at night. Previously, titanium dioxide was used in combination with other components such as cement, sand and water, which were only effective under ultraviolet light. The researchers have now improved the properties of this material by modifying it with graphene nanoparticles, so that it remains active even in visible light.
Possible breakthrough for urban environments
This development could mean a major breakthrough for the future of cities and the construction sector. The system’s ability to function with visible light is crucial in this context. The researchers emphasise that the effect is achieved with just five minutes of light exposure.
How does it work in detail?
When light strikes the material, it generates charges that interact with the molecules on the surface. The gases expand and, when they come into contact with the facades, they first adhere to the wall. This interaction causes an oxidation that changes the composition of the gases. A material that, if it passes the expected tests and does not significantly increase costs, could be very influential for the future of cities and the construction of buildings. In the near future we could potentially see regulations requiring the inclusion of these detoxifying materials in construction, similar to what has happened in recent years in the inclusion of other environmental specifications.