Students develop titanium dioxide roof tile coating that removes up to 97 percent of smog-causing nitrogen oxides
A team of University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering students created a roof tile coating that when applied to an average-sized residential roof breaks down the same amount of smog-causing nitrogen oxides per yearas a car driven 11,000 miles.
At left, two tiles coated with the titanium dioxide mixture. At right, uncoated tiles. At top, a commercially available tile with titanium dioxide.
Mini atmosphere chamber built by the students for the experiments.
They calculated 21 tons of nitrogen oxides would be eliminated daily if tiles on one million roofs were coated with their titanium dioxide mixture. They also calculated it would cost only about $5 for enough titanium dioxide to coat an average-sized residential roof.
That would have a significant impact in Southern California, where 500 tons of nitrogen oxides are emitted daily in the South Coast Air Quality Management District coverage area, which includes all of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Last month, the research by the UC Riverside team – Carlos Espinoza, Louis Lancaster, Chun-Yu “Jimmy” Liang, Kelly McCoy, Jessica Moncayo and Edwin Rodriguez – received an honorable mention award for phase two of an Environmental Protection Agency student design competition.
A UC Riverside student team who worked on the project last year received $15,000 as a phase one winner of EPA’s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) competition. That team consisted of William Lichtenberg, Duc Nguyen, Calvin Cao, Vincent Chen and Espinoza (an undergraduate then who is now a graduate student at UC Riverside).
Nitrogen oxides are formed when certain fuels are burned at high temperatures. Nitrogen oxides then react with volatile organic compounds in the presence of sunlight to create smog.
Currently, there are other roofing tiles on the market that help reduce pollution from nitrogen oxides. However, there is little data about claims that they reduce smog.
The students set out to change that. They coated two identical off-the-shelf clay tiles with different amounts of titanium dioxide, a common compound found in everything from paint to food to cosmetics. The tiles were then placed inside a miniature atmospheric chamber that the students built out of wood, Teflon and PVC piping.
The chamber was connected to a source of nitrogen oxides and a device that reads concentrations of nitrogen oxides. They used ultraviolet light to simulate sunlight, which activates the titanium dioxide and allows it to break down the nitrogen oxides.
They found the titanium dioxide coated tiles removed between 88 percent and 97 percent of the nitrogen oxides. They also found there wasn’t much of a difference in nitrogen oxide removal when different amounts of the coating were applied, despite one having about 12 times as much titanium dioxide coating. There wasn’t much of a difference because surface area, not the amount of coating, is the important factor.
The current team of students, all of whom are set to graduate in June, are hopeful a new team of students will continue with this project and test other variables.
For example, they want to see what happens when they add their titanium dioxide to exterior paint. They are also considering looking at applying the coating to concrete, walls or dividers along freeways. Other questions include how long the coating will last when applied and what impact changing the color of coating, which is currently white, would have.
Sean Nealon | Eurek Alert!
Designing buildings with a positive energy balance
18.03.2016 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH
Simulating future noise in order to prevent it
23.02.2016 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
If a person pushes a broken-down car alone, there is a certain effect. If another person helps, the result is the sum of their efforts. If two micro-particles are pushing another microparticle, however, the resulting effect may not necessarily be the sum their efforts. A recent study published in Nature Communications, measured this odd effect that scientists call “many body.”
In the microscopic world, where the modern miniaturized machines at the new frontiers of technology operate, as long as we are in the presence of two...
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.
Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...
Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...
Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid
Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). This work is about avoiding costly and unstable fullerenes.
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences...
27.04.2016 | Event News
15.04.2016 | Event News
12.04.2016 | Event News
02.05.2016 | Life Sciences
02.05.2016 | Materials Sciences
02.05.2016 | Physics and Astronomy