Building materials as a pollutant capture device?

Wondering what the community thinks of concepts such as this:

The idea of arming buildings with technology to combat air pollution is clearly appealing, but could photocatalysis or other forms of chemical decomposition/capture possibly provide enough impact to clean the air of a city??? Or is this wishful thinking? What would need to happen to unlock meaningful impact on municipal level clean air?

Hi @ShwayComs, @hopkepk, @HentieF, @akb
You may be able to answer James question. Please join the discussion.

Hi @jamesburbridge
There have been some work on TiO2 coated ducting to kill pathogens and/or destroy VOCs. More often building materials are sources rather than sinks. We have seen many products with adhesives or materials that decompose to form formaldehyde. We generally “commission” building or rooms by heating them unoccupied up to 40 to 50C to out-gas VOCs. They can also serve as reservoirs of pollutants such as the third-hand smoke problem. If you have destruction of one pollutant, you would also have to worry about what the decomposition products were so you did not make the situation worse (lower concentrations but more toxic pollutants). Lots of examples of unintended consequences.

Hi @jamesburbridge
There are few details in the above article to make a detailed assessment.

In general terms such approaches have limited value (in some contexts). For example, in the case of vehicle emissions, even if a mechanism extracted 100% of the pollutants on contact [unlikely] then there would still be a pollution gradient between the emissions source (the vehicle) and the buildings. In between the vehicle and the buildings people are inhaling toxic pollutants. That’s one reason why the most effective pollution control measures are focused on the source of the emissions (e.g. low and zero emission vehicles).

When dies this competition kick off? Our CCU technology captures CO2 NOx and SOx in one go. We can do it using modified FGDs at coal fired power stations. We can also do it on standard VACs in urban environments making buildings into giant air filters and getting ride of sick building syndrome.

Hi @akb I totally agree with you, a good hydrocarbon is an unburned and undisturbed one, leave 'em in the ground!

Unfortunately, the cynic in me continues to think that population growth and economic development trends in Asia, Africa, and South America, we haven’t seen the end of the burned hydrocarbon for energy and we need to come up with ways to deal with the resulting pollution after it’s already in the atmosphere. Sad, but potentially true.

@CamCarbonCapture we aren’t sure when this prize would launch as we’re still in the early phases of research and prize design, but we’ll be sure to keep the community posted of any developments as they happen.

I have proposed a solution to trap air PM, by a porous material. See the following publication: