A team of creative and determined students at University of California at Riverside designed and made a new “weapon” to cut pollution: the smog-eating roof. The project has been developed for a student design competition, organized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) whose mission “is to protect human health and the environment.”
The students designed and made roof tiles coated in titanium dioxide, which has the capacity of breaking the smog particles from the atmosphere, eventually eliminating a big part of the almost noxious gas emitted by vehicles, power plants and factories (nitrogen oxide). This gas is the one that, in contact with the sun, creates the smog and turns the cities into continually polluted places, because of the intense traffic and the presence of the heavy industry. About smog EPA says that “it can make it difficult for some people to breathe and it greatly reduces how far we can see through the air.“
The students who competed discovered that titanium dioxide, on the clay roof tiles, helps avoiding the pollution in the atmosphere with 88 – 97%; the substance transforming the smog particles, in fact, in less harmful particles.
Titanium dioxide is a usual chemical substance, cheap, which can be found in many products that we use daily. Actually, the Californian students calculated that a medium size roof could be coated in this substance for only 5 dollars. In one year, the inventors say, the tiles coated this way could destroy a number of smog particles generated by a car that was driven 17,000 km. For the innovation they presented, the students won 15,000, award offered by EPA competition, and things don’t end here. The team is planning to continue their research and to expand the use of titanium dioxide to other materials like paint, highway walls, dividers, and concrete, everything with the same purpose of fighting pollution.
The awards says, said Reza Abbaschian, dean of the Bourns College of Engineering (BCOE), “Reinforce our commitment to providing opportunities for our students to be involved in projects that have a real impact on our world. It also recognizes the dedication and talents of our students and faculty and their commitment to solving problems that affect our environment and the quality of life.”