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A Concrete Solution To Pollution 276

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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  • 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
  • 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.

  • 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.
  • wrong way around (Score:3, Interesting)

    by __aahlyu4518 ( 74832 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:40AM (#16792320)
    Don't try to resolve the result of the problem... try to resolve the problem itself !
  • 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 dbIII ( 701233 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:49AM (#16792368)
    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.

  • by idiat ( 12297 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @08:59AM (#16792444) Homepage
    Two things here, firstly if a car is belting out think black smoke then it would kill a catalytic converter *very* quickly, secondly catalytic converters are only catalysts, that is they don't to any magic, all they do is speed up a chemical reaction which would normally take about two years into a few seconds. This makes them good for local pollution levels but they give "zero" over a fairly short term (two years). I say "zero" but it's worse than this as they use heavy metals to make this zero benefit which actually makes them bad for the environment as a whole. The *only* place they make sense is in cities where localised pollution or smog is a problem, say LA and to a lesser london.

    This is compounded in the UK at least by the fact that legislation says they must work after x seconds from cold which means they manufactures make them so they warm up quickly rather than work efficiently when at temperature.

    Your *much* better of buying a more efficient car in the first place and getting it tuned occasionally so it never gets to a state where it pumps out thick black smoke.
  • by Kynde ( 324134 ) <kynde AT iki DOT fi> on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:07AM (#16792504)
    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 time ago. I can't remember the details but the point is that it was also agreed/planned that those emission could be exchanged between countries. Now imagine a country that has been blatantly disregarding all possible CO2 emission cut downs and imagine a country that already tried to be nature-aware and efficient. Guess who's gonna be selling CO2 emissions to whom.

    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.

    So all in all, albeit sadly, the US might not have it so bad after all. Although, most likely future environmental agreements will atleast one day be loosely tied to per capita and then being competetive in CO2 efficiency will be crucial.
  • 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.
  • No Troll (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zeromorph ( 1009305 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @09:29AM (#16792706)

    Parent is not a troll!

    This is actually a possible scenario. Not for the Amazonian rainforest but for the so called "green lungs" of the cities. These concrete could actually influence decision about smaller tree covered areas inside or next to urban areas and whether they are needed for the micro-climate of the area or not.

    As posted by someone above:

    Don't try to resolve the result of the problem... try to resolve the problem itself !
  • 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?"
  • Re:Global Warming? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by beringreenbear ( 949867 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @10:10AM (#16793064) Journal
    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.
  • 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.
  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @11:53AM (#16794228) Journal
    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.
  • by debianlinux ( 548082 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:10PM (#16794480)
    Do a little research on Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design []. Fact is, LEED [] works well as a motivation for Owner and Contractor to spend more money on energy efficient and environmentally friendly construction methods.
  • by Chacham ( 981 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:24PM (#16794638) Homepage Journal
    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.

    Nope. Nearly everyone wants to help. The first and foremost thing is, however, is ti really a problem.

    Regardless of what the self-appointed prophets of doom think, not everyone believes there is a problem. Whether there is or is not a problem is absolutely irrelevant. The question is, do peope think there is a problem.

    There are plenty of reasons people reject the claims of a worse tomorrow. That has to do with communication of the message, religous beliefs, faith in technology, and so on. But it has nearly nothing to do with people being lazy.

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

    How do you know if they do it ever? How about those people who have a simple system they've had for years, and simply use the bin once in a while. Or the people that never buy plastic in the first place.

    Or the ones that look at their trash container being full, and dump regular trash in with their recycling, saying "What does it hurt?"

    They are entitled to their opinion.

    The bottom line is that most people are inherently lazy. And unless their house needed repainting, or their sidewalk/driveway needed to be repaved, they won't do it. Even parents with kids that have asthma. Some will, but most won't.

    You are a self-righteous jerk. Why are your beliefs better than everyone else's? Why is it that if people don't do what you think they should do, they are "lazy"? Why did you have to throw in an insult that even parents of kids that have asthma won't help?

    Personally, i refuse to recycle because of jerks like you. I don't believe in all the doom and gloom, but if other people want to recycle because that's their thing, i have no problem. And i;m even willing to help. However, as soon as my city made an ordinance that one must recycle, i simply refuse to recycle. I'll walk the extra mile to use a garbage can instead of a recycling bin. Why? Because of jerks like you that force your personal beliefs on others. You even look down on others for not believing what you believe.

    You don't have to believe what others believe. You don't even have to respect what they believe. However, you should respect they're inherent right to believe anything, even if it is wrong.

  • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @12:37PM (#16794786) Journal
    I think we are on the same page...

    I think so too, but let's nitpick at the details anyway ;)

    I was just pointing out that the entire building would not need to be constructed out of the expensive material - just the outside.

    Very true and insightful that, but that outer layer might still be either (A) more expensive than leaving it as it is, or (B) more ugly than you'd want it to be.

    They are already cladding buildings with expensive materials - far more expensive than 130% of concrete. [...]Not all corporate buildings are status-building headquarters... there are an awful lot of warehouses, substations, factories, etc.

    I took the liberty of putting those two phrases next to each other, because, as I understand it (but I could be wrong), your position revolves around the assumption that both might be true at the same time for the same building. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

    The problem is that while both of those two phrases are very true and insightful, they also apply to entirely different building.

    The warehouses, substations, factories, etc, that you mention weren't covered in glass and marble to start with. Some may be just covered in cheap paint (once every 20 years or so, for that matter), or be bare brick or cement to start with. In which case removing the old paint and covering them in eco-friendly cement is just an extra expense. Some were covered in thermo-insulating panels, soundproofing panels, whatever pqanels. The eco-friendly cement would have to come on top of those, in that case, which is an extra expense.

    Basically what I'm saying is that the companies have been penny-pinching as it is. You can't really say that it's cheaper to cover it this concrete instead of in marble or glass, because that kind of building wasn't covered in marble or glass to start with.

    If that building really could work just as well as bare concrete (needed no insulation, etc) it is pretty much just that plus a thin layer of cheap paint already. And even that layer of paint is because of the community, as you do mention yourself:

    I was putting forward a scenario where they could throw up a cheap ugly concrete building, and then when the community objects they can claim that it's good for the environment.

    Call me a jaded old cynic, but I think that expecting them to understand that is an overly optimistic view for most communities. The NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) factor can -- and very often does -- override any other lip service they might pay to ecology, safety, local economy, etc. Plus, there's the other factor you mention below:

    Me? I like pretty buildings. I like the Chrysler Building. I currently live in a big, ugly, concrete apartment building. Ugly buildings are not good for MY environment :)

    Well, that's just the thing: 99% of the population thinks like you do. Nobody wants ugly buildings in their environment, so property values tend to go down everywhere around them.

    Dunno about where you live, but here even those big ugly concrete apartment buildings are at least covered in a coat of paint. If you actually left one to look like bare concrete, you'd find that not only _you_ have to lower prices substantially to find people willing to live there, but the same would suddenly apply to every building around it. Good luck explaining to the other building's owner that he has to take a loss so you can be eco-friendly.

    The same applies to a lot of the warehouses, substations, factories, etc. You try leaving those looking like bare concrete, and they'll lower the attractivity of anything that's on the same street or has line-of-sight to it. Judging by some big factories I've seen, that could mean pretty much half the city.
  • by electroniceric ( 468976 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @01:23PM (#16795458)
    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.
  • by manno ( 848709 ) on Friday November 10, 2006 @02:15PM (#16796230)
    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 monitor. but the grandparent has a good point. If you use this material, just for the exterior, and not the structural shell I could see a lot of companies doing it. It would also be a good idea to make a stucco like product with the same properties that could be sprayed on to a finished exterior as well. It's a good idea.


Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"