Concrete pavers help remove NOx from roadway air

Concrete pavers in the Netherlands are keeping the air cleaner


Concrete pavers used to pave a stretch of road in the Netherlands have produced some stunning results.    

Scientists were testing the material in these pavers for their air-purifying capabilities. For this project, 1,000 meters of a road in the municipality of Hengelo was surfaced with these stones. Another area of equal length was paved with traditional paving material for comparison.    

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands (TUe) did three air-purity measurements last spring and discovered that over the  area paved with air-purifying concrete, the NOx content was 25 to 45 percent lower than that over the area paved with normal concrete.  

Car pollution is a big contributor to greenhouse gas emissions

Vehicle exhaust contains NOx, considered an important greenhouse gas emission, and is the cause of acid rain and smog. The pavers used in this test contain titanium dioxide, a material that takes the nitrogen oxides from the air and converts it, with the help of sunlight, into harmless nitrate, which can get rinsed away by rain. These concrete stones also break down algae and dirt, which helps them to always stay clean.    

This material has been the focus of experiments in Japan and Europe for the past four years. One drawback to it being adopted for use is its higher cost than traditional paving material. However, with this and another test’s results – which showed a 40 to 80 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide contamination with a titanium dioxide (TiO2) treated surface  – the idea of utilizing this effective greenhouse gas reducing material, especially in our polluting metropolitan areas, looks appealing.

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