Our environment and our immune systems, claim us everyday, better solutions in terms of contaminants generated by our own machines for producing other materials and items. Concrete has been the top used construction material for centuries and as time passes by its production becomes more carbon emitting and green-house effect producer. Carbon Negative concrete has already been thought as a composite material with the addition of manganesium oxide silicates, reducing the carbon-emission.
What about protecting our environment after construction has ended? What else is there in order to reduce green house effect and carbon emission by the use of construction? Some of us already pick up after our dogs so that it doesn’t emit carbon to the environment, but what can Architecture do to preserve the environment? Some might say that we are already building green roofs, but plants will not absorb pollution.
Richard Meier, requested a new material for his Jubilee Church in Italy, a white concrete that cleans itself and stays white forever made with titanium dioxide as an additive. This Photocatalytic cement by Italcementi that cleans itself, also has the capabilities of absorbing, or better yet, trapping on its surface all contaminant agents in the near environment, then washing it away using it as a cleaning agent for itself. It is exactly as nature’s photosynthesis: when the contaminants cover the surface, the sun strikes and the reaction between both is generated, releasing an interchanged product and cleaning the surface. This action can also be performed on interior spaces, this is why Jubilee Church has all those glass roofs (function and aesthetic, the glorious part).
This next diagram explains the Photocatalyst process in materials:
As you can see, TiO2 (titanium dioxide), acts as the main agent for contaminant absortion and when the reaction with the sun is achieved, it deodorizes, purifies the air and sterilizes it, depending on the use and location. TiO2 has many applications in construction and architectural interior spaces, regarding sterilization and air purification. In the form of concrete mix and panels, as those produced by Italcementi or the Noxer paver; concrete can able to help the environment, we just have to explore a little bit further.
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