Italy, like all industrialized countries, has been plagued with pollution and sub-standard air quality. To combat this environmental concern, the Italcementi Group is experimenting with titanium dioxides, that can be incorporated into anything from cement to paint, to photocatalyze the natural breakdown of pollutants.
The findings of the PICADA project (Photocatalytic Innovative Coverings Applications for Depollution Assessment), part of the European “Competitive and Sustainable Growth” research program, certify that photocatalytic cement building materials and coverings absorb and eliminate from 20 to 80% of air pollutants, depending on atmospheric conditions and the level of sunlight that triggers photocatalysis.
The results of the experimental tests conducted for the project have enabled researchers to identify and select the products with the most effective depolluting and self-cleaning properties. The recently completed PICADA project, which began in 2002, was a joint effort involving a number of European private and public bodies and the continent’s leading research centers — CNR (Italy), CSTB (France) and NCSR Democritos and AUT (Greece) –together with four industrial partners — Italcementi Group (Italy), GTM Construction (France), DBT (Denmark), Millennium Chemicals (United Kingdom).
The project researchers conducted laboratory and full-scale tests to determine the ability of varying strengths of titanium dioxide to remove pollutants (NOx and aromatic compounds), and consequently assess the substance’s potential for use in building construction materials, such as wall facings.
The innovative building materials examined by the PICADA project could bring a “revolution” in the management of air pollution as part of the drive for competitive and sustainable growth. After completing four years of research into photoactive processes, the EU researchers have certified that the new materials offer a significant contribution to reduction of air pollutants.
Italcementi–whose laboratories patented the TX Active® photoactive principle for cement products–worked with the PICADA project researchers on developing and executing, in a laboratory environment, test procedures to study photoactive removal of organic and nonorganic substances in the concentrations normally found in outdoor urban environments…
“The positive results obtained from use of photocatalytic active principles, as attested by the findings of the European PICADA project, are making rapid headway in modern architecture and local government,” said Fabrizio Donega, Italcementi Deputy Chief Operating Officer and head of business operations in Italy. “The lab tests on photoactive cements indicated that three minutes of sunlight are sufficient to reduce pollutants by up to 75%. Italcementi’s goal is to provide the architectural community with TX Active®, a product with a high innovation content based on our R&D work, so that today’s urban projects and the new cities of the future can make the environment and the quality of life their priority.”