Green technology used in cement cleans the air

July 28, 2014 0 By Amanda Giasson

Biodynamic cement has been used to construct the 6 story Palazzo Italia in Milan, Italy.

Italy’s second most populous city is getting ready for Expo Milano 2015, a massive environmental and sustainability exhibition taking place next May, and the Italian Pavilion, which will be hosting the event, has been made out of biodynamic cement, a type of green technology that actually purifies the air.

The aesthetically appealing geometrically-shaped building is also equipped with solar panels.

Designed to look like a petrified forest, the impressive and huge structure looks more like a highly fissured ice cube with a canopy of solar panels. However, whether one sees ice splintering or the intended urban forest appearance, what truly makes the structure impressive and unique is the material from which it has been constructed.

The architects who created the tree design for the building did so because the 2200 tons of biodynamic cement that was used cleans the air, mirroring the role of trees. The cement is mixed with photocatalytic substances that react with sunlight. This results in the breaking down of pollutants, which are washed away with rain water. More specifically, the concrete breaks down nitrogen oxide within 2.5 meters (just over 8 feet) of its surface.

Approximately 80% of the materials used to create the structure are recycled. The Italcementi Group, an Italian multinational company specializing in building materials, produces the concrete. The company said that “The entire outdoor surface and part of the interiors will consist of i.active Biodynamic cement panels.” It added that “In direct sunlight, the active principle contained in the material ‘captures’ certain pollutants present in the air and converts them into inert salts, helping to purify the atmosphere from smog.”

The “smog-eating” concrete green technology was invented in the 1990’s.

The inventor of the environmentally friendly cement is Italian chemist Luigi Cassar. According to Cassar, if 15% of the buildings that existed in cities were coated with TxActive, the name given to the smog-eating product, the pollution in cities could be cut half.

Italy is not the first place in the world to use this green technology. There has already been a building constructed of the cement in Mexico City and Chicago will be the first city in the United States to test out the product on paved roads.