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    Motorways; Potentially A Very Green Space

    The science bods have been at it once again, searching for ways to cut down on the mass of pollutants that our industrialised lives are constantly pumping into the atmosphere. Certainly there are few more polluted areas than around motorway junctions and service stations – and yet, a new discovery looks set to change this in the near future.

    Motorways, could help clean up our environment.

    Motorways, could help clean up our environment.

    Known as nanotechnology – investigated originally to keep streets clean naturally – researchers have discovered that by coating concrete surfaces – whether a large concrete motorway structure or a pattern-imprinted concrete driveway at home –common pollutants are transformed into harmless waste. The ‘magic’ works thanks to UK light – which the titanium dioxide absorbs (as it does when used in sun block skin locations) and creates a catalytic reaction which destroys all vehicle emitted pollutants which touch its surfaces. Certainly the potential for cleaning the air on motorways, roads and driveways looks promising!

    Now being intensively investigated by a Finnish-Swedish research group, these materials are being developed for civil engineering, suggesting a beautiful future partnership between eco-friendly living and cutting edge nano technology.

    But will we see these titanium dioxide coatings gracing our polished kitchen splash backs, pattern imprinted concrete driveways, and polished patio areas any time soon?

    Right now the technology exists in a basic way in the expensive world of commercial architecture – mainly self-cleaning tiles and other ‘self clean’ technologies used in some corporate buildings. The challenge for the research team will be to find a way to develop this new product commercially, and price sensitively – so that it can compete with other traditional construction materials, and become a viable and attractive alternative to regular stone, granite, concrete and other building materials. This latest marriage however between green living and technology, certainly looks promising.

    Image by Maurice Koop

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