Exciting Innovation: Smog-Eating Buildings

If you live in the city, especially a huge metropolitan area, then you know that on those smoggy days, it can be rather uncomfortable breathing outside. However, a very cool new development from Alcoa Architectural Products poses a small-scale solution: panels to coat buildings which actually consume surrounding smog.

The company’s website states, “patented HYDROTECT™ technology protects our planet by drawing on sunlight, rainwater and other natural forces to help cleanse the global environment. Alcoa’s breakthrough was determining how to apply that technology to pre-painted metal – creating the EcoClean coating.”

Specifically, the coating is composed of coil-coated aluminum paneling, covered in titanium dioxide. When sunlight comes into contact with the panels, a free radical attack on surrounding organic material, such as smog particles, occurs. This converts the smog into water and carbon dioxide.

Essentially, this neutralizes the smog immediately surrounding the building. When it rains, water runs off of the building, thanks to the slick texture of the panels, and washes away the matter. The paneling is surprisingly inexpensive to install, and lasts for up to ten years. It can also help to lower building maintenance costs.

Hi-Rise Skyscrapers with sunset skyCurrently, the Manuel Gea González Hospital in Mexico City is coated in 2,500 square meters of coating constructed from titanium dioxide. Estimates state that the use of this coating negates the pollution effects of 1,000 cars each day. Reportedly, the Palazzo Italia in Milan, Italy is looking at installing a similar coating, across 13,000 square meters.

Because of the many dangers of smog and air pollution, especially for young children, elderly individuals, and people with compromised immune systems – not to mention our growing problem of global warming – utilizing a coating such as this on a large scale may have a significant ecological and public health benefit.

-The Alternative Daily


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