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Roads Really Could Be “Road Warriors” to Fight Greenhouse Gas Emissions

study confirms PURETI pavement reduces pollutionWith their vast potential for harvesting solar power and other forms of renewable energy, America’s highways are poised to become “road warriors” in the fight for clean energy. Now a U.S. company called Pureti, Inc. hopes to add another green job to the mix: air pollution fighter. The key will be the results of a new first-of-its kind field study of Pureti’s pollution fighting surface treatment for asphalt and concrete.

Surface Treatments as Pollution Fighters

Pureti’s surface treatment is based on titanium dioxide, which is a naturally occurring substance that is commonly used as a white pigment in paints and many other products, including toothpaste.  Pureti’s  product – called PURETi –  produces a thin photocatalytic film on almost any surface (photocatalysis is an accelerated chemical reaction set off by light). The reaction in PURETi breaks down volatile organic compounds and other airborne pollutants, both indoors and outside.

A Test for Pollution Fighting Highways

In apparently what is the first study of its kind, a research team at Louisiana State University has been field testing Pureti’s product on both concrete and asphalt. The aim is to quantify the product’s effect on outdoor air pollutants, and to measure any impact on groundwater runoff. In lab tests at LSU, the result was a 70 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide, which is a greenhouse gas that also contributes to smog and acid rain.  The product is also expected to help reduce sulfur dioxide.

A Short Term Solution and Green Jobs, Too

There are hundreds of millions of petroleum-fueled vehicles on the road, and even under the best of circumstances the transition to fuel cells, electric vehicles and other less-polluting means of transportation will be a long one.  Both energy harvesting and new surface treatments offer a way to help offset or reduce greenhouse gases and other pollutants from vehicular traffic over the short term, while also creating new green jobs in upgrading public infrastructure (and you gotta have infrastructure, right?). In that regard it’s worth noting that not only is Pureti a U.S.-based company, but PURETi is manufactured in Michigan.

Image: Highway by JanneM on flickr.com.

 
 
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Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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