Above all the smog of cars and the polluting emissions of industries, every day our body comes in contact with fine powders and many other harmful substances. Citizens’ solutions are often adopted, ranging from the circulation of alternating number plates to the blocking of cars at certain times and days, precisely to counteract the high level of pollution, especially in the crowded metropolises, but not enough to change the air conditions in the city . We should certainly start to educate Italians (who are further behind than other countries) to use less private transport and to provide cities with a better and more efficient public transport system. The most innovative solutions are:
The advance of cement is one of the biggest problems that grips our country but thanks to an all-Italian idea it can become a bit more sustainable, like trees and help to reduce smog. Nothing to do with the ability to absorb Co2 from the creatures of Nature but would still help. TX Active is the new photocatalytic active ingredient, able to capture the polluting substances present in the air. A sort of self-cleaning cement that uses sunlight to break down pollutants, transforming them into less harmful substances. It will always remain gray, it will not be beautiful and colorful like the trees but it will help to reduce the smog. But it requires a large amount. In fact, 1000 square meters of cement absorb the same pollutants as 80 evergreen plants. Or again, they would eliminate the pollution caused by 30 petrol vehicles. The value of the idea has not gone unnoticed. TX Active is indeed in the final in the “Industry” category at the European Inventor Award of the EPO, the European Patent Office. Developed by the Italcementi chemist Luigi Cassar, the system is in fact anything but new since it was patented in the distant 1996. It is able to eliminate both organic and inorganic pollutants present in the air, TX Active is the result of 10 years of research , tests and applications that led to the final formulation of the active ingredient. The self-cleaning cement developed by Cassar is based on photocatalytic ingredients, ie substances that have the ability to react when exposed to sunlight. Specifically, the photocatalysts were added to the concrete mixture in the form of anatase, one of the three mineral forms of titanium dioxide. A solution obtained by enriching the traditional cement with this mineral that chemically combines oxygen with sunlight by reducing the pollutants before they can bond with the surface. Not just cement. TX Active can also be incorporated into paints, plasters, but can also be used to asphalt roads. The walls coated with self-cleaning cement are thus able to remove nitrogenous compounds from the air but also lead carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. And the surrender? Rivela Italcementi that in a city like Milan covering 15% of exposed urban surfaces with products containing TX Active®, would reduce pollution by about 50%.
They were installed in May in the Municipality of Modena to begin a phase of experimentation with the new biotech urban furnishings that contribute to improving air quality. They are called “Citytrees” and they are installations of moss and particular plants that act positively on the quality of the air by filtering the smog. After the installation down in Oslo, Dresden and Hongk Kong, these anti-smog panels will be placed in some streets of Modena, as part of the “City tree scaler” project promoted and financed by Climate-Kic. The project received approval and funding from Climate-Kic, the largest public-private community in Europe created in 2010 to spread knowledge, promote innovation in the challenge of climate change and promote the creation of a society ” zerocarbon “. The Municipality of Modena has proposed itself as a partner for experimentation through the Agency for Energy and Sustainable Development (AESS) of which it is a founding member and which is in turn affiliated to Climate-Kic. The project includes an experimental campaign to monitor the effects on air quality and the reduction of greenhouse gases produced by the installation of six Citytrees in narrow, long and heavily trafficked “canyon effect” roads) or characterized by high traffic flows of the urban area of Modena. The panels are self-supporting structures 3 meters long, 4 meters high and 60 cm deep that support specific cultures of moss and vascular plants that “devour” fine powders (Pm10), nitrogen dioxide and ozone producing, according to the results of laboratory tests carried out so far , the same effect as 275 trees but using less than 1 percent of space. According to the developers this huge plant filter is able to remove 240 tons of CO2 from the surrounding air.
Designed by the Italian start-up Anemotech Srl of Casei Gerola, The Breath is a fabric capable of reducing the amount of polluting substances in the air, whether it is an outdoor or indoor place. The innovative fabric able to absorb and clean the polluting substances consists of three layers that work in synergy: the first has an absorbing action of harmful substances; the latter has a cleaning action by systematically breaking down the bacterial charge of the air in contact with the fiber; the third has an anti-odor action that absorbs making the air free from troublesome emissions. The Breath is the right solution to cover the restoration or maintenance scaffolding of the facades of the buildings in the city center but also as a fabric for noise barriers in the suburban streets. Flexible in size and easy to customize, there are countless uses that can be done.
4 Airlite, the anti-smog paint invented by Bernardoni
Airlite is a paint capable of purifying the air from smog. To invent this revolutionary painting was Massimo Bernardoni, a “brain on the run” originating in Bologna. Painting, both for exteriors and interiors, like plants is greedy of C02 emissions. Today, his inventor lives in London, where his company produces Airlite, an incredible inorganic powder that reproduces photosynthesis and manages to eradicate bacteria, molds and bad smells such as smoke. “One square meter covered with Airlite eliminates 0.069 g of nitrogen oxides every 12 hours, 1,000 meters of Airlite eliminate the pollution produced by 71.88 petrol cars or 23 diesel cars with Euro 4 engines, or 95, in 12 hours. 83 petrol or 31.94 petrol-driven cars with Euro 5 “engine, explains Bernardoni at Bolognatoday. “This is actually a revolutionary discovery, whose idea was born about 14 years ago and that actually cost seven years of intense work and patents, a long period that involved me together with Antonio Cianci, to whom I owe the merit of having turned the Airlite dream into a tangible business “, continues the inventor. There are two types of Airlite: one for internal surfaces and one for external facades. The product, by choice, is not sold in supermarkets, but only in specialized shops reserved for professionals. But there are many requests that individuals make to companies and painters in order to use the special paint. The cost is about 4/5 euros per square meter. The paint is marketed in the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Australia, South East Asia and recently also in Italy “where we started (abroad had already happened) to receive some awards including the victory to the talent for innovative start-ups aired on Italia 1 last spring and the Unicredit Start Lab 2015 award dedicated to Clean tech companies “. Airlite could be valuable if used in schools and hospitals, also because it is able to fight bacteria but there are no resources. “We are already working, however – says Bernardoni – We have also been contacted by the Councilor for the Environment of the City of Bologna”. Here’s how it works. It activates a mechanism similar to the photosynthesis of plants, which through the action of light promotes a chemical reaction capable of ‘eating’ pollution. It is not liquid, like all other paintings. It is a powder, therefore inorganic. Powder that turns into semi-conductor thanks to the reaction activated by light, which produces a chemical reaction in which an electron is released and meets the molecules of water vapor, combining with them and forming an OH bond. This creates an element that meets other elements fixed with the available calcium, forming salts based on calcium (chloride, phosphate, nitrate, etc.) capable of eliminating the pollutants present. The same goes for bacteria, which receive a kind of lethal “shock” from this chemical process.
5 The tower captures smog
China continues to fight against its silent enemy: pollution. For some years now, the Asian country has started to reverse the route on the fossil fuels front, investing heavily in an energy transition policy towards renewables. But the results will certainly not be immediate, and in the meantime most Chinese cities are trying to implement technologies that can guarantee purified air in the most polluted areas. Air purified thanks to the tower eats smog. Among these there is a large anti-smog tower, about 100 meters high, the largest air purifier in the world, which was installed in the city of Xi’an. And that, according to preliminary results, has already done its job very well, significantly improving the quality of the air in the surrounding area. The results, made known by the Institute of Earth Environment of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, speak of a production of about 10 million cubic meters of clean air a day since the tower came into operation a few months ago. In an area of 10 square kilometers, smog levels (PM2.5) have been reduced by 15% during peak pollution periods. A marked improvement over the normal conditions of the city. Air captured, filtered and released back into the atmosphere. How does the tower eat smog? To provide purified air, smog is attracted by the action of a series of greenhouses that surround the base of the tower and are heated by solar energy. This new hot air rises to the top of the tower, passing through a series of purification filters before being released back into the atmosphere. According to the designers, this method allows to clean the air using a relatively small electrical power, which in China is in any case supplied mainly by coal-fired power plants. It is still a prototype, the ‘real’ tower will be 500 meters high. It is still an experiment. The team responsible for the project plans to disseminate updated data on the operation of the anti-smog tower in March, joined by a complete assessment of the system’s performance. The project was launched by the Academy in 2015, the construction of the tower was completed last year in a prototype version, which is significantly smaller than that which should be designed and built if the results will confirm its validity. life size would measure 500 meters in height and 200 meters in diameter, with the base of greenhouses that would cover almost 30 square kilometers. This is the system that the research team hopes to implement in the coming years in other particularly polluted Chinese cities that need purified air.
Certainly all good ideas and it would be great to see them all in one day.
Photos taken by pixabay