The LIFE+ project (http://ec.europa.eu/environment/life ), PhotoPAQ, “PHOTOcatalytic remediation Processes on Air Quality”, aims at providing new solutions for improving urban air quality (from January 2009- to December 2013).
Rising industrial and energy production, burning of fossils fuel and the dramatic rise in traffic all contribute to air pollution in our town and cities which can lead to serious health problems. The World Health Organization reported that long term exposure to air pollution in Europe caused 168 000 (range of estimate 100 000-400 000) excess deaths annually with the best estimate on the reduction in life expectancy in central Europe at about 1 year. Worldwide, it has been estimated that 3 million people die prematurely due to air pollution (EEA 2003). Air pollution related is one of the most pressing problems in European urban area.
In the very recent years; photo-catalytic self-cleaning and “de-polluting” materials have been suggested as a remediation technology mainly for NOx and aromatic VOCs in the polluted urban environment.
This project leads by consortium of eight partners, targets to evaluate the feasibility of using TiO2 based products to alleviate the air pollution problem under real atmospheric conditions. The work conducted so far has shown that the photocatalytic technology could reduce the concentration of NOX and BTEX in air. The current commercial products are based on the photo-catalytic properties of a thin layer of TiO2 deposited at the surface of the material (such as glass, pavement …) or embedded in paints or concrete
The PhotoPaq project will address a range of issues related to the optimum use of different types of materials in different geographical regions of Europe for different applications (under what real life conditions, where exactly within a city can we expect a maximum reduction of the concentration levels of traffic…). In this project, the potential improvement in the air quality and the corresponding reaction in the exposure of the population in urban areas, due to the use of photocatalytic materials on two sites with different environments (north and South of Europe) will be evaluated. The overall outcome will be achieved by combining tests in the high-performance simulation chambers and in the field (Brussels: Leopold 2 Tunnel) in combination with numerical modelling.
The potential air quality improvements will be assessed during well defined field campaigns which will take place both prior to and after the implementation of the active construction materials, during which the most important contributors to the urban air pollution will be measured (ozone, NOx, VOCs and ultra fine particles).
The project objectives are :
- Developing the methodology for photocatalytic removal of NOx, HONO, radicals, large number of VOCs and particles
- Testing the photocatalytic activities of the commercially available TiO2 based products, designing better environmental indicators and methods to assess the impact
- Providing recommendation to the European authorities on the practical application for air treatment.
The expected results are :
- A set of tracers associated to the photocatalytic process
- An assessment of the benefice on air quality due to the use of photocatalytic or de-polluting construction material
- Guidelines on how to obtain the best air quality improvement when deploying the photocatalytic or de-polluting construction material
Assessing and demonstrating the effectiveness of these de-polluting techniques have a real EU added value both in terms of policy making (and implementing the EU air quality strategy) and economics (by providing a demonstration of the actual performance of a new technique).
By providing such an assessment, this project will provide a basis for encouraging local authorities to adopt a more integrated approach to urban management by informing the stakeholders to use those techniques and methods which have been positively assessed and have successfully been tested in the project for their performance.
The project results will essentially form a guidance protocol as regards the optimum application of the construction materials in question based on maximum de-polluting and de-soiling efficiency achieved at minimum cost at local street scale in urban area.