By Mehdi Hasan Abdullah
We are living in an era where certain people have to buy bottled air because it is so difficult to breathe in smog-covered areas. Global Warming is no longer a hypothesis or a myth; it is a serious issue from which people either shy away or talk about it without fruitful contribution.
Discussions can only take us so far, but it is the hard work and vision of the extreme minority that will help us move towards a safer world. There are thousands of new green technologies being developed or tested as we speak, but the major problem these pioneers tackle with is – practicality vs. theory (or rather usefulness).
One such idea, which caught Green Channel’s eye, was this new trend in green technology, which a team of University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering students came up with. They 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 year as a car driven 11,000 miles.
By their estimations, 21 tons of nitrogen oxides would be eliminated daily if tiles on one million roofs were coated with the titanium dioxide mixture. They also calculated that it would cost only about $5 for sufficient titanium dioxide to coat an average-sized residential roof.
The students 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 which 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 that this titanium dioxide coated tiles removed between 88 percent and 97 percent of the nitrogen oxides that were present. 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. This was because surface area, not the amount of coating, is the important factor.
There’s also a possibility of producing tiles to remove carbon dioxide, but this would decrease the practicality of the tiles by making the roofs harder to install.
But with time, these researchers are hopeful that they will be able to fix this issue. They are also looking at applying the coating to concrete, walls or dividers along freeways to see if the same result follows.
In a country like Bangladesh, where there are high-rise buildings or apartments in all directions with unbearable traffic on the ground level, this is something that Bangladesh should invest in!
It is cost-effective, efficient, easy to install, and most importantly, it will make the air in the cities breathable. Recent studies show that the air in Dhaka city contains large amounts of nitrogen oxides as well as sulfur dioxide which are harmful for our lungs.
– See more at Dhaka Tribune