Nitrogen oxide, or NOx, is a poisonous compound produced by power plants and cars, and is one of the bedrocks of smog. But imagine if the roads we drove on could reduce NOx pollution?
It might be possible. Coating pavement blocks in titanium oxide can cut pollution significantly, according to a new study. Researchers in the Netherlands who paved a block of sidewalk using titanium oxide-treated blocks discovered that, over the course of a year, NOx pollution was cut by up to 45%, depending on the weather.
These photocatalytic pavements, as the titanium oxide-coated stone is also known, remove the pollutants from the air and turn them into less harmful chemicals. The technology has already been used in building panels by Alcoa.
The Netherlands is at the forefront of innovative new road research. Last year, it looked at the possibilities of using "smart paint" to coat highway surfaces and charge electric cars, as well as streetlights. And north Idaho is the venue for the world's first road that would be built of solar panels to charge our cars: Trials began in April of this year.