Luigi Cassar, Gian Luca Guerrini and team
Finalists for the European Inventor Award 2014
Together with his team at the Italian cement manufacturer Italcementi S.p.A., Luigi Cassar developed an innovative new cement mixture that is self-cleaning and purifies air. The cement uses sunlight to break down pollutants into less harmful substances. This way, it not only lastingly prevents the effects of pollution; it also combats pollution itself.
Cassar and his team achieved this breakthrough by enriching cement with titanium oxide minerals, which oxidise with sunlight to break down pollutants before they can bind with the surface and cause discolouration. The photocatalyst compound can also be incorporated into mortar, paint, plaster, and even roads .
Walls covered in the self-cleaning cement cut levels of NOx – a collection of nitrogen compounds that are harmful to human health and create low-lying smog – in the surrounding air by as much as 80%. They also reduce other known toxic substances, including lead, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. And because Cassar’s compound keeps buildings’ facades clean and bright, it improves not only the physical health but also the mental wellbeing of urban citizens.
Italcementi Group is the fifth largest cement producer in the world. The Group companies combine the expertise, knowhow and cultures of 22 countries in 4 Continents, boasting an industrial network of 46 cement plants, 12 grinding centres, 6 terminals, 420 concrete batching units and with an overall staff of about 18,500 people. In 2013 Italcementi Group sales exceeded 4.2 billion Euro.
One of the major drivers for the cement market is steady and consistent growth in construction industry. Strong prospects in the construction industry of emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil are expected to increase the demand for cement. Asia Pacific is the largest consumer of cement market followed by North America and Europe . The ‘Key Trends and Opportunities to 2017’ research report says worldwide market value for concrete and cement industry was US$ 324.4 billion in 2012.
How it works
Using sunlight, photocatalysts oxidise (combine chemically with oxygen) organic and inorganic substances, promoting faster decomposition of pollutants and preventing them from accumulating on the surface of a building. Nitrates and sulphates on the cement are easily washed off with rainwater, leaving the surface without the need for chemical cleaning.
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