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A Concrete Solution To Pollution 276

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the cleaning-up-the-town dept.
PreacherTom writes "With concerns over global warming and pollution control reaching an all-time high, an Italian company has developed an interesting solution. It is called TX Active: a concrete that literally breaks down pollutants in the air. The effects are significant: 'In large cities with persistent pollution problems caused by car emissions, smoke from heating systems, and industrial activities, both the company and outside experts estimate that covering 15% of all visible urban surfaces (painting the walls, repaving the roads) with products containing TX Active could abate pollution by up to 50%.' Even more significant is that the cost is only 30% over that of normal concrete. Remarkable."
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A Concrete Solution To Pollution

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  • by ookabooka (731013) on Friday November 10, 2006 @07:56AM (#16792188)
    30% increase in price may not convince those that don't consider the environment that important. Maybe in some places like California or parts of Europe this will take off, but I don't see it becoming commonplace for industrialized or developing cities.
    • I'd say it's exactly 30% more than most of people are willing to pay. Builders of big objects are big companies, and they don't care, they don't have to. If you'd make it 1% cheaper to make than just concrete, it'd be a hit. Any percent more, is a no-go.

        While they are at it, if they'd manage to increase the thermal isolation benefits of the material so that it'd pay off to buy the more expensive one, they'd stand a chance, but even that chance is not remarkable.
      • by hey! (33014) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:20AM (#16792634) Homepage Journal
        I'd say it's exactly 30% more than most of people are willing to pay. Builders of big objects are big companies, and they don't care, they don't have to. If you'd make it 1% cheaper to make than just concrete, it'd be a hit. Any percent more, is a no-go.

        Whenever I visit Dallas, I wish I had a penny for every ton of concrete in that city.

        However, I think the idea might be that the use of this material could be mandated. It probably would not be mandated in most cities, but certain cities whose climate makes them vulnerable to pollution problems might consdider it.
        • by pcmanjon (735165) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:07AM (#16793686)
          You think that whenever you visit Dallas?

          Gee, I drive there every day and all I can think of is how shitty the city is and how I want to get back to Fort Worth.

          I highly doubt any city is going to pay 30% more though. The cities and counties out here bid to the cheapest contractor and the cheapest contractor is probably going to get the cheapest concrete.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I highly doubt any city is going to pay 30% more though. The cities and counties out here bid to the cheapest contractor and the cheapest contractor is probably going to get the cheapest concrete.

            How much a solution is going to cost versus another one isn't (or shouldn't be) calculated only on the basis of the concrete's cost, but also on the other costs or savings that a certain solution is going to induce.

            In the case of this special concrete, the city would probably see a net saving by not having to

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by adrianmonk (890071)

            I highly doubt any city is going to pay 30% more though. The cities and counties out here bid to the cheapest contractor and the cheapest contractor is probably going to get the cheapest concrete.

            Is it as simple as that? If it is, when the city asks me to bid to build 10 miles of road, I'll submit a bid to build only 5 miles of road instead. I'll come in at half the price of everyone else and be awarded the contract every time.

            I guess the reason that wouldn't work is that there are certain requirem

      • by C0deJunkie (309293) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:24AM (#16792672) Homepage Journal
        While the parent is absolutely correct, the comment doesn't account for the fact that the EU and the Italian legislators push anything that goes toward limiting pollution with a great effort. That is, maybe the builders may receive a sort of compensation for using this kind of material, as the house owners who build photovoltaic panels are receiving since a couple of years ago.
        • by C0deJunkie (309293) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:29AM (#16792716) Homepage Journal
          From the italcementi site [italcementigroup.com].
          TX Active® is a photocatalytic principle for cement products which can reduce organic and inorganic pollutants that are present in the air. Its effectiveness has been thoroughly tested and thus certified by important independent research centers (CNR, ARPA, IspraResearchCenter). Its formulation is the result of 10 years of research, tests and applications carried out by CTG (Centro Tecnico di Gruppo, a company in the Italcementi Group) which has led to the final formulation of the active principle.
      • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:30AM (#16792722)
        On the other hand, it only needs to be on the exposed surface of the building. Even at a 30% premium, it is cheaper than marble, granite, glass, etc. It might give a builder an excuse to have a bare concrete exterior without being accused of making an ugly building. "It fights pollution! Isn't that more important than being pretty?"
        • by Moraelin (679338) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:01AM (#16793622) Journal
          It might give a builder an excuse to have a bare concrete exterior without being accused of making an ugly building. "It fights pollution! Isn't that more important than being pretty?"


          Heh. Sorry, I just can't see it happening like that. (Except maybe if their PR department says that that claim would improve the corporate image or something.)

          Most of the corporations don't really give a fuck about the environment or social responsibility or even ethics. Their _only_ legal responsibility is to make more money for the shareholder. And they'll do just that. If doing the ecologically sane, socially responsible, or ethical thing would cause 1% less profits, it's their legal _duty_ to _not_ do it.

          The industry (as a whole) has a long history of doing anything up to (and including) dumping poisons into rivers or into the atmosphere. It's been perfectly happy to cause health problems all the way to cancer and poisoning in the nearby towns (both mining and manufacturing did that), in its own workers (see the fact that they knew since the end of the 19'th century that asbestos tends to cause lung cancer), or even in its customers (see the tobacco industry.)

          The only thing that _ever_ dragged it kicking and screaming into cleaning up its act was the law. At some point society decided, "no, sorry, we're not having _that_ shit dumped into our town's river and ground water. Put a filter on it or we'll make it even more expensive to ignore us." And even then invariably the industry has put up quite a fight, including astroturfing, lobbying, PR lies campaigns, threatening to fire everyone and move somewhere else, etc.

          Sadly I just don't see it working any differently this time. Now you're asking them to pay extra (in most cases having an ugly building _is_ paying extra, in an indirect way: less rent, lost customers, public image, whatever) not just to clean their own act, but basically to clean everyone else's pollution too. Expect a heartfelt laugh in the face if you tried convincing someone to volunteer to do that. Either the law forces them to, or it just won't happen.
          • by FirienFirien (857374) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:09AM (#16793716) Homepage
            cause 1% less profits, it's their legal _duty_ to _not_ do it

            Not quite. There are grey elements there too - if you can improve your public image by being sane, responsible, ethical, then more people will buy your product. My pension advisor asked me whether I wanted to invest into strictly ethical companies, it seemed to be a standard question; the implication then is that companies with ethical policies get some more investment. Sure, the companies with unethical policies can make more money by those actions, but the companies still have a choice; Google could make more money by being evil! But they somehow still manage to be one of the most lucrative companies.

            It's never black and white.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by PinkPanther (42194)
              It's never black and white.
              I'd say that sentence is 100% contradictory...you are saying that it is black and white about being black and white?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by drsquare (530038)
            Most of the corporations don't really give a fuck about the environment or social responsibility or even ethics. Their _only_ legal responsibility is to make more money for the shareholder.


            Why do companies have a responsibility to absorb pollution made by other people?

            You tirade might have carried some weight if you'd committed yourself to rebuilding your house/garden with this concrete.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by manno (848709)
            OMG it'z teh c0rpZorZ they're teh 3v!l3!

            I think you're missing his argument, he's saying that putting a Concrete +30% product on your buildings exterior would cheaper than putting a marble/granite/ect. finish on the building. He's not advocating that you make your concrete footings/pylons/columns/slabs out of it, but the finished exterior. I'm a construction consultant, and I do estimating, and when I read "is only 30% over that of normal concrete" I started laughing so hard I nearly spit coffee all over my
      • by Pink Tinkletini (978889) on Friday November 10, 2006 @10:32AM (#16793276) Homepage
        Builders of big objects are big companies, and they don't care, they don't have to.
        Not always. Architects as diverse Norman Foster and Bruce Fowle have built their reputations on being green, and their talent doesn't come cheap. Plenty of big companies are willing to pay a premium for the ability to say they're environmentally conscious. Greenroofs are a huge hit in Chicago for this reason. Waterless urinals are the next big thing in New York. Look at the new Hearst building or the Condé Nast headquarters for concrete examples.

        I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss "big companies" as pure evil. Sometimes, they do care, because they have to.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by WindBourne (631190)
        try spending some time in large cities. Chicago, San Fransisco, and even Denver are forcing builders and companies to be a great deal more green. In particular, Chicago is starting to push green rooftops and Denver is about to push an initiative for 1,000,000 new trees in Denver. So actually, the 30% may work. Besides, it is just titanium dioxide and 30% is way too much for it.
    • That's silly. You can find a bigger price fluctuation between offers if you ask for offers in a tender system.

      In Hungary motorways suddently cost 2-3x more after 2002 than before. Some sinister people point out that there was a change of government in 2002, but I'm sure there is no connection. ;)
    • by herve_masson (104332) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:12AM (#16792546)
      30% increase in price may not convince those that don't consider the environment that important

      30% more for the *painting*; when you're dealing with city buildings, this part is next to negligible compared to the rest. If that product is as efficient as TFA says, I don't see it as a problem at all, and personally would like to see it either made non-optional, or tax assisted. The fact it also helps to keep surfaces clean would by itself be enough to motivate buyers.
    • As with hybrid cars and low-e windows, this is one area where tax credits could make the difference. Presumably the manufacturers and distributors of this stuff were generous in the last round of political campaign fundraising.
    • by Ingolfke (515826) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:29AM (#16792718) Journal
      I totally agree with you... those stupid fuckers who hate the environment so much that they purchase cars that don't run only on electricty, when the cost of those cars is only 30 to 50% more than normal cars... AGGGHH.... I just don't understand why those people hate trees and birds and lungs so much. They're probably rolling around in their filthy money laughing at the rest of us as we choke on the noxious gases from their Honda Civics and Ford Foci.
    • by Charcharodon (611187) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:40AM (#16792810)
      You are quite wrong. The polution eating qualities of this material is a secondary bonus to what this material is really good for, which is to keep crud from building up on buildings. Corporations, even the greedy, mean, puppy kicking kinds like their icons to be bold and most of all clean and shinny. They also like keeping all that money they get from kicking puppies, so paying people to clean their giant icons costs lots of money even if you use illegals to do it. A 30% boost in price is a small amount to be paid for something that only needs to be cleaned every great once in a while.

      The concrete will be quite common, because of a simple fact corporations don't build roads, governments do, and they are about as hyper anal about the environment as they come, reguardless of what the media says. Lot's of money coming from the federal government has alot of strings attached to it. Cities get alot of flack over polution and loose alot of funding over it. Getting people out of their cars has been a non-starter to reduce polution, but getting the numbers to drop with a special concrete or paint is simplicity in itself, when compared to light rail and other polution fighting schemes.

      There is another large group in the US that is willing to pay quite a bit of money for this technology, and that is parents. Ask any parent with an asthmatic child if they would be willing to do something as simple as repaint their home inside and out to better the life of their suffering child and you'll most likely see them jumping in their car and hurrying off to the hardware store before you can even get an answer. Most of the polution in the US, as in greater than 50%, comes not from industry but people. It is the average person whose mind has to be changed, not the corporations. Most people are more than willing to make simple changes in their lives or part with a reasonable amount of money to do so, especially if it will have a real impact on the life of their child.

      I wouldn't be surprised to see this paint become mandatory to use at schools and public buildings with just a few years. Even if it didn't or ever get used by corporations, there are 300,000,000 in the US that live in a lot of houses. It wouldn't take very many to start making a noticeable impact on the polution.

      • by garylian (870843)

        Most people are more than willing to make simple changes in their lives or part with a reasonable amount of money to do so, especially if it will have a real impact on the life of their child.

        While I agree with the rest of your sentiments, you will dismayed to realize how many of the "average person" will just be lazy instead of trying to make things better for their children, or society as a whole.

        All you have to do is drive through a residential neighborhood and see how many homes didn't put their recycle

    • Buildings that use it - and similar technologies - could get tax reductions or other compensation for doing somthing for the public good.

      If done this way, it could work.
    • by spineboy (22918) on Friday November 10, 2006 @10:40AM (#16793340) Journal
      Usually labor is the major cost of making anything. The cost of concrete as a percentage of the building whole is probably a small amount. I just looked up the average concrete cost per home -around $6500 for an average sized home. An average priced home in the USA is $227,000 (the market can vary widely - here in California the average price is around $450,000)
      Anyway, the concrete cost is only about 3% of the total cost of building a home - not much, and thus affordable.
      Yes, I know that modern office buildings probablky have a higher percentage of concrete, but it still is not the major cost of a building - labor is.
  • Global Warming? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SomethingOrOther (521702) on Friday November 10, 2006 @07:57AM (#16792192) Homepage

    global warming and pollution control

    So WTF does this have to do with global warming? Or does the concrete break down CO2 also?
    Too many buzzwords man
    • Re:Global Warming? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by halvin (883516) on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:46AM (#16792354) Homepage
      FTA:
      In the presence of natural or artificial light (this applies also indoors) the photocatalyzer significantly speeds up the natural oxidation processes that cause the decomposition of pollutants, transforming them into less harmful compounds such as water, nitrates, or carbon dioxide.
      So, er, no. It increases CO2.
      • Re:Global Warming? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by archen (447353) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:46AM (#16792864)
        I think with the current scare over CO2 everyone is forgetting the fact that we're still dumping much more hazardous crap into the air. We need to reduce CO2 of course, but would you rather have much more toxic crap floating around in the atmosphere or just CO2 - and I guess that will be the big question. I'm hoping that people will realize that many of these chemicals that break down into CO2 are probably harmful to plants (contributing to acid rain) which reduces the vegetation's ability to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Sique (173459)
          ... and in the end most of those organic pollutants will become carbon dioxide anyway... not immediately as it were after hitting name brand concrete, but within days or weeks anyway. So this concrete doesn't actually change the CO2 contribution, it just moves it forward a few weeks.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by malsdavis (542216) *
            Toxic compounds can also cause additional Cardon Dioxide release over the long term as they destroy plant-life (via acid rain and other such mechanisms) which then releases CO2 as they decompose.

            Of course this is in addition to the millions of people air pollution kills every year which tends to go unreported.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      It's an alternative theory of global warming: The earth is heating up, not just because of pollution, but because of the massive amounts of concrete (rather than grass, trees, and dirt) that cover the ground in "civilized" areas. There is correlation, as well. The amount of concrete in-use has skyrocketed since the beginning of the 20th century. Over the same time period, the average global temperature has risen.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mrogers (85392)
      On the contrary, cement production adds more CO2 to the atmosphere than the airline industry. (Source [guardian.co.uk]) The production of 1 tonne of cement clinker results in the generation of: ~535 kg "process" CO2 from the calcination of limestone; 375 kg CO2 from fuel used in the kiln; and 70kg CO2 "indirect" emissions from the electricity used. (Source [parliament.uk])
  • by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@NOSPAM.xmsnet.nl> on Friday November 10, 2006 @07:59AM (#16792198)
    FTA: TX Active not only hastens the decomposition of organic and inorganic pollutants, it also prevents their build-up on surfaces, helping to preserve a building's pristine appearance over time.

    So the long-term cost may be lower because you can spend less on cleaning your prestigious HQ.

  • Limecrete (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:00AM (#16792200)
    And if you use limecrete rather than concrete then you can reduce CO2 emmisions by 40% as well.

    Limecrete [anu.net]
    • Re:Limecrete (Score:4, Informative)

      by onx (956508) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:15AM (#16792576)
      Actually limecrete only reduces the emissions involved in creating it by 40% by way of using less energy to fire it, and absorbing some CO2 while curing (hardening on your sidewalk). After that, the limecrete does nothing...overall producing and using limecrete still produces prollution.
  • by nuggz (69912) on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:02AM (#16792202) Homepage
    I have an idea, perhaps we can control pollution forming toxins at the source.
    For example in cars we could promote less intial generation (perhaps even regulate fuel consumption),
    Then before it even leaves the car we run it through some type of catalyst to convert it to less toxic pollutants, or filter out small particles.

    Even better is if we had some sort of On Board Diagnostic system to monitor everything, like make sure there are no leaks between the engine and the filters.

    This seems like an expensive air purifier, though one that might help with the existing problem and be very profitable to sell.

    My biggest question is why have this in concrete? Other than the manufacturer sells concrete.

    The summary is also wrong, it isn't 30% more, they claim $120 for a 5 story building. You must have cheap paint if that's 30% more than plain concrete.
    • The already have an onboard diagnostic system in cars, and it does reduce polution by a large amount. They also have a catalyzer in the exhaust that does exactly the same thing as this paint/concrete additive, though it works on heat rather than light. This is why cars already polute at a fraction of what they did just ten years ago. The problem is that there are alot more cars than we had ten years ago, and not all air polution comes from cars. Anything that burns anything can create air polutants. Su
  • by legoburner (702695) on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:02AM (#16792204) Homepage Journal
    Unfortunately the parent (first post) is probably right. Cathalitic convertors (for instance) are still not required in China due to the slight increase in cost of a vehicle. When I was there our tour guide had never even heard of them and was amazed that something existed that could stop some of the thick black smoke coming out of the vehicles there, having no idea (aside from price) why they were not already mandatory.
  • by giafly (926567) on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:03AM (#16792208)
    "Buildings, roads and sidewalks have developed an appetite for air pollution. Researchers in Japan and Hong Kong are testing construction materials coated with titanium dioxide--the stuff of white paint and toothpaste--to see how well they can fight pollution. Better known as a pigment for whiteness, titanium dioxide can clear the air because it is an efficient photocatalyst: it speeds the breakdown of water vapor by ultraviolet light. The results of this reaction are hydroxyl radicals, which attack both inorganic and organic compounds, and turn them into molecules that can be harmlessly washed away with the next rainfall." - Scientific American (Feb 2002 Issue) [sciam.com]
    • ... because this products, "attack both inorganic and organic compounds, and turn them into molecules that can be harmlessly washed away with the next rainfall", a couple nights sleeping on the sidewalk will take care of the homeless people too.
  • So the long-term cost may be lower because you can spend less on cleaning your prestigious HQ.
    Maybe so, but I don't think contractors will suggest the 30% increase because "it makes the air better" or "it stays whiter". I do applaud the innovation, but I think it is reserved for specialized applications, like artistic buildings (where that super white shine really matters) or dense post-industrialized cities with huge budgets and also lots of pollution.
    • Contractors might not suggest it but Joe CEO writing the checks for a new corporate HQ might request it if he knew about it.
  • by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@NOSPAM.xmsnet.nl> on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:06AM (#16792218)
    Note: the 30% quote is for pavement with this catalyst. Adding the catalyst to paint would cost much less (TFA says $120 for a five-storey building).
  • by Knutsi (959723) on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:10AM (#16792226)
    If this turns out not to be FUD, it sounds excellend. I bet those 30% extra could easily be subsidised by city gouvernments quite simply due to reduced environmental and health problems.

    If anything, it proves better technology is the cure to problems caused by technology (:
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:11AM (#16792228) Homepage
    The big problem with the current US approach to global warming (beyond its pure bone-headed stupidity) is that once the US is forced into taking it seriously it will be significantly behind the competition from companies elsewhere in the globe, and paticularly in Europe. British Airways are already offering carbon offsets and these Italians are looking to make cash in another way. Given that this is going to be a huge market in the future there is a real risk to US companies (witness Toyota v Ford/GM) that innovation happens elsewhere.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kynde (324134)
      The big problem with the current US approach to global warming (beyond its pure bone-headed stupidity) is that once the US is forced into taking it seriously it will be significantly behind the competition from companies elsewhere in the globe, and paticularly in Europe.

      Although you're absolutely right, I must add to that there's also an up-side to it. Because for example the Kioto agreement was phrased to force each country to reduce it's CO2 emission levels from what they are now to what they were some ti
      • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
        ``I just can't figure out how come the emission levels weren't atleast somehow tied to per capita... I mean, rewarding those that have been more pollutive already on the expense of those that have atleast tried to do something seems counter intuitive to me.''

        That's politics for you. Also, it seems to me that the Kyoto protocol is not being implemented very widely, and that the excuse for this is mostly pointing fingers and saying "but lured us into this deal!"
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ToddML (590924)
      I seriously doubt it. As the prices come down and solutions become more reasonable, the U.S. will jump on board rapidly. A series of solar company executives, mostly from Europe, were recently asked who the next big "solar" power would be (right now Germany leads per capita), and most of them mentioned the United States. They all said once the U.S. commits, they will ramp up extremely quickly. So I really think you're overplaying your point.
    • <sarcasm>God Bless America for Protecting the Economy! Job well done innit.</sarcasm>
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ben Hutchings (4651)
      I could be wrong, but I don't think this has any effect on greenhouse gases; the pollutants that are broken down are those that cause acid precipitation and health problems. In fact, replacing concrete will involve producing a lot of CO2.
    • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:15AM (#16792574) Homepage Journal
      Offsets are crap.

      Anyone who sponsors the idea of using "carbon offsets" is doing nothing but transfering wealth from one entity to another. It has nothing to do with protecting the environment and should be laughed at when mentioned.
      • Free market is crap.

        Anyone who sponsors the idea of using "money" is doing nothing but transfering (sic) wealth from one entity to another. It has nothing to do with creating an economy and should be laughed at when mentioned.

        Now, being seriously a bit: offsets create a product and you need to be environmentally friendly to produce it. There it goes, watch: incentive.
      • The biggest polluters get POORER! The smallest polluters get RICHER!

        Which part of that don't you understand?

         
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      Interestingly, I just received a letter from my gas and electricity supplier. They thank me for having bought their "green" (supposedly from renewable sources - I have not checked this) electricity for years, and announce the immediate availability of "green" gas: for an extra 0.03 Euros per m^3 of gas, they'll take measures that filter out the CO_2 that results from burning it, and/or plant trees to that effect. In other words, if you buy green electricity and green gas, your household will be carbon-neutr
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      The first one to be making loads of cash will be the first one to produce biofuel from algae. This is actually _cheaper_ than making fuel from crude oil, and thus doesn't require huge subsidies like using soy or rape seed does. Of course, the soy and rape seed farmers have a huge lobby going, so that they can keep raking in these subsidies...and the oil industry obviously isn't jumping up and down to break this information to the world. The figures are there, though, and the fact that crude oil will eventua
  • by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@NOSPAM.xmsnet.nl> on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:17AM (#16792242)
    My biggest question is why have this in concrete? Other than the manufacturer sells concrete.

    Controlling pollution at the source is nice, but may not be enough. Emission laws for cars have been hugely successful, but there are still plenty of smog sources out there, not all of which can be cleaned up economically.
    We used to have huge forests that act as pollution sinks. If we can use our urban jungle to do the same, why not?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JustNiz (692889)
      >> Emission laws for cars have been hugely successful

      NO they haven't. They've been a token gesture. There's still way too much air pollution from vehicles. We need to do more.
      • by hcdejong (561314)
        For petrol-powered cars, I'd call a 99% decrease in several rather toxic substances rather more than a token gesture. The chief remaining problem is CO2. For diesels, efforts are underway at the moment, with high sulfur content in US diesel being a large stumbling block.
      • by ThosLives (686517) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:20AM (#16792620) Journal

        Any suggestions? "Solutions" like "stop driving" or "use mass transit" are not acceptable to the public in most places. You can't even say "use centralized power generation and electric cars" because that has several downsides as well: limited range, vast increase in the use of heavy-metal batteries (unless those little ultracapacitor things come online any time soon), centralized generation is a single point of failure, and other side effects.

        Remember, none of the pollution "problem" is technical; we have the technology that would fix all the problems. The difficulty is in the politics, not the technology.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        There was actually a marked decrease in smog and emissions in many US cities from the late 70s throughout the 80s. Smog increased as vehicle miles travelled increased and particularly as car size shot back up. Sustained low oil prices simply made people unconcerned about these issues.
  • Solution to Pollution

    Conjunction junction, what's your function?...

  • I have an idea, perhaps we can control pollution forming toxins at the source.
    You mean create clean cars and clean factories that don't pollute the atmosphere? What are you some kind of communist?!
  • Actually, I invented a much better air purification system a while back.

    It consists of a structure which waves in the air on large beams rising from the ground, on which are placed what are known as Local Environmental Air Filters ("LEAF"s).

    The best thing is it uses an innovative self-assembly technique which just requires placing a single capsule in the ground, so installation is pretty simple.

    After use, it can be disassembled using hand tools and the parts reused for many other uses, so it's ideal f

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chocky2 (99588)
      An excellent idea, however I suspect that problems may arrise around this point:

      > "After use, it can be disassembled using hand tools and the parts reused for many other uses"

      since when the immediately utility provided by disassembling-and-reusing the structure is perceived to outweigh the longer term utility provided by its air-filering function the structures will be disassembled & reused.

      The problem may be exacerbated by the length of time the "innovative self-assembly technique" requires to instl
  • a concrete that literally breaks down pollutants in the air
    Maybe the concrete can break down molecules, but sulfur, lead and other heavy metals will still be there in the environment ready to enter our organisms!
  • Hell littering is still not really a crime in china. The government there has NO interest in environment, even at their own detrement.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dbIII (701233)
      china. The government there has NO interest in environment,

      However they are spending more than any other govenment on earth installing wind turbines to generate electricity. They are closing down a lot of those death trap coal mines they have. I think facts may be more complicated than your opinions.

      • Its purly a monetary decision on their part. And yes lucikly money will eventually force them to become more environmental, but as things go they still have little to no restrictions on personal pollution.
  • wrong way around (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MarsDude (74832) on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:40AM (#16792320) Homepage
    Don't try to resolve the result of the problem... try to resolve the problem itself !
  • A 30% increase in the price of the concrete on the surface will only be a few percent of the price for a lot of structures. Even pavement is thick.
  • The only way anyone will use this stuff is if it's required by law or made a requirement for city contracts. It's going to cost an insane amount of money. It would probably be cheaper to just give people tax incentives to buy more efficient (and therefore typically less polluting) cars.
  • Great! Now we just need someone to get up there and paint over the hole in the ozone layer.
  • Frankly I'm tired and bored of listening to the constant doom mongering.

    Look. We can take a bitty view at all this, then run about like headless chickens screaming about this issue this week, then that issue next week... Or... we can take an overview and recognise that some pollution is inevitable so, allow people to pollute as much as they like, as long as they pay for it. Make them buy a license to pollute.

    The idea is called cap and trade. You say, these and these are sources of this and that pollution, y
  • Is anyone up for a 30% increase in their housing costs? Maybe a 30% increase in their taxes? 30% is a lot of money when you're talking about construction. I'm not saying it shouldn't be done... only tossing out 30% like it's not big thing is absolutely idiotic.
    • by Quill_28 (553921)
      ummm... I don't think this would effect the price of the roof, framing, carpet, kitchen cabinets, etc..

      It is a 30% increase on one part of the house.

      Cost costs $100,000(Sorry I live in TN). Concrete/Paint cost $10,000 dollars normally,
      With new concrete/paint it jumps 30% to $13,000.

      New house now costs $103,000 to build, not $130,000.
      • by Ingolfke (515826)
        I love Tennessee. I grew up around Chattanooga... anyways...

        You're right the overal cost would be assigned to the building costs not the overall cost. After reading the article (yes I know)... the real benefit seems to be in re-paving streets. Which I'm sure we're all excited about paying for and suffering through... but it does seem to work, so maybe a municipality could carefully use this material in high traffic high polluting areas.

        I'm in a rant and troll mood toay... figures a good well-balanced Ten
  • Isn't this the same old trick as the titanium-based paint they developed over there to break down the pollution into harmless dust or something?

    meta-dupe?
  • Mega-Dupe (Score:3, Informative)

    by fdiskne1 (219834) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:44AM (#16792860)
    I knew this sounded familiar. This one is from back in July of 2005 so I suppose it may be worth a repost. The CNN article linked in the earlier post no longer exists.

    http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/07/2 4/064246 [slashdot.org]
  • Short term effects: The city's economy is bankrupted because it probably costs $10,000 per cubic yard of this stuff

    Long term effects: It probably causes cancer, sterility, senility, lucidity, frugality, and a bunch of other -ity's that I can't think of right now.

    __OR__

    Five to ten years after it's reached its absorption limit, we get people who walk to work on a daily basis falling down dead from inhaling all of the pollutants that this material is spewing back into the air. What's that you say? Replace it e
  • The Italian researchers fail to understand a key point: The Religion. It's not sufficient that Man may resolve his struggles with Gaia via our intellect and our technology. We must first SUFFER, and then know Redemption. We must SACRIFICE, deprive ourselves of our modern conveniences, and the most ARROGANT among our tribes must know economic UPHEAVAL before we may enter the PROMISED LAND.

    What, they thought this was about Science?

    heh.
  • by GreatBunzinni (642500) on Friday November 10, 2006 @10:04AM (#16793014)
    First of all, portland cement already absorbs CO2, so this isn't new. What TFA fails to mention is that the production of portland cement produces a heck of a lot of CO2. So in effect the building materials made from that material do indeed absorb CO2 but only a fraction that it's manufacture launched into the atmosphere. TFA doesn't mention how much CO2 does the manufacture of the miraculous compound produces.

    Second, TFA fails to mention that no material is capable of absorbing a constant rate of some compound for as long as anyone cares to measure. In the case of porland cement it does indeed absorb CO2 but only in the surface. The CO2 absorption doesn't penetrate more than a couple of cm beyond the element's surface and as time passes, the rate of absorption decreases until it doesn't absorb anything anymore. So TFA doesn't state what does it mean by 30%. Is it the total amount absorbed? Is it peak absorption rate? Is it the time window where the compound stays unsaturated? What is it? That information is vital to evaluate if it justifies the added cost.

    Third. What effect does that compound has on the concrete's mechanical properties? Does it make it more fragile? More permeable? Less resistant?

    Fourth, TFA states that it only costs 30% more. Only? How do you justify a 30% increase on building costs just because someone decided to use a useless compound due to some marketing gimmick?

    As I see it, this product is useless. It is tailored to ignorant people who are willing to spend lots of money on something just because someone decided to slap a "green" sticker on it. There are far more efficient and proven ways to absorb CO2 and other greenhouse gases than using some "green" product on concrete. For example, invest on green spaces, on passive heating/cooling systems, on energy-efficient lighting solutions, etc... Heck, instead of spending 30% of the building costs on funny concrete why not invest that money on some eco-friendly project? All those suggestions do a whole lot more for the environmnet than some snake oil product to add to the concrete mixture.
  • I'd be curious to know what the net benefit is, seeing as concrete production is itself one of the largest contributors to air pollution in the first place.
  • That's the real question. Pollution causes all sorts of health problems, so if the reduction in pollution results in a healthier, happier populace, and a significant corresponding savings in health care, then the government would tax regular concrete or provide sufficient incentives for the new concrete, to balance out the additional cost. Kinda sucks for the construction company if they have to pay a bit more, but as a society, we're well used to spreading out costs of advancements that improve all of our
  • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Friday November 10, 2006 @10:58AM (#16793590) Homepage Journal
    >> an Italian company has developed... a concrete that literally breaks down pollutants in the air...

    Sounds plausible. Wasn't it the Italians who created a concrete which absorbs and contains competing mobsters?
  • This article left out key data. Anyone knowledgable about pollution knows that the produciton of concrete is the 2nd biggest source of carbon di-oxide, after burning fossil fuels. Granted, we are talking about only 2.5% of total world-wide emmissions, but it is still the 2nd biggest source. The rough estimate is that 0.498 pounds of CO2 is released into the air for every pound of cement made. That comes out to about 560 million tons/year of CO2 from cement production.

    The question they forget to discuss

  • by wealthychef (584778) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:56AM (#16794268)
    Let's keep in mind that in building anything, raw materials are not the highest cost. In fact, labor-related costs are #1, probably. As another poster pointed out, this only has to be used on the exterior, so it's only half or less of the total concrete needed, perhaps, plus concrete may not be the biggest materials cost of building a building, plus materials are not even half the cost of construction, so I'm willing to bet if you use this concrete it increases the cost of an office building by maybe 5% max, if that. I'm definitely guesstimating here, but it's not what it sounds like, keep that in mind. I think it would be reasonable to mandate this stuff if it's good as it costs. Plus, it will probably get cheaper over time, as competition sets in due to more stringent standards.

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