Eating Smog - Let technology do the work

In attempt to tackle the growing problem of air pollution, architects, scientists and designers are coming up with ways of creating buildings and surfaces that fight pollution and eat smog.

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In Mexico City there is a building designed to ‘eat smog.’ With air pollution being the top global environmental killer, people are seeking new technologies that could help neutralise the air. The Manuel Gea Gonzalez Hospital in Mexico City is one way in which technology is being interweaved into city systems to reduce air pollution. Its white façade is made up of panels that are coated with photocatalytic technology, which reacts to ultraviolet lights, by breaking down urban pollutants into compounds such as carbon dioxide and water. The designers of the building suggest that it can neutralize the effects of up to a 1000 cars a day.

Ideas of air pollution fighting surfaces are also gaining momentum in other countries such as in Italy where the Milan Expo 2015, six stories, 9000 square meter Palazzo Italia pavilion will be built with an air purifying façade. In the Netherlands researchers have implemented a full scale demonstration of an air purifying pavement across a street on Hengelo. They claim that under ideal conditions pollution on the street can be reduced by 45%.

It is suggested that the materials to neutralise air pollution are not ‘prohibitively expensive,’ and that they would only add 4-5% on construction costs, however it is important to recognise that this technology is only effective in the immediate vicinity of the building or pavement and doesn’t address the global impact of air quality. Furthermore the ‘technology will do the work,’ complex does not eradicate the cause of air pollution it only seeks to cure the existing symptoms.