Innovation That Matters

| Photo source KICT

Light-sensitive concrete cleans the air in road tunnels

Property & Construction

To improve the air quality in underground road tunnels, researchers have developed a type of concrete that can remove pollution

Spotted: Every year, around seven million people die from polluted air. And air underground can be especially dangerous, as the combination of vehicle emissions with limited ventilation creates a concentrated cocktail of fine particulate matter: tiny particles that harm our health and the environment.

To help eliminate these harmful particles from the road, researchers from the Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT) have developed a revolutionary type of concrete. 

When the team’s photocatalytic, or light-sensitive, concrete is exposed to light, a part of it reacts and produces something called reactive oxygen species (ROS). The product of this reaction, ROS, can break down and remove harmful substances like the pollutants found in tunnels. In essence, KICT’s concrete harnesses light to clean up this fine particulate matter. 

In May 2023, a trial was conducted in the Banpo Underground Road Tunnel in Seoul, Korea, which resulted in an 18 per cent reduction in the concentration of one particular type of pollutant over a 24-hour period. This test also proved that natural light is unnecessary to make this concrete work, as an artificial light source was used. 

The research group is currently working towards commercialisation and distribution of the technology.  

In the archive, Springwise has spotted other innovations that clean up pollution, from a modular unit that cleans CO2 from the air to a carbon capture system that turns pollution into rock.

Written By: Georgia King



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