Air pollution is a big concern, affecting many cities all over the world. Heavy traffic or factories releasing unrelenting emissions paint urban skies with a real smog cloud. Hence, any new information on projects seeking to tackle this grave issue is a cause for celebration.
In this case, the story comes from the initiative promoted by a combined scientific team at the Stanford University in California and the Tsinghua University in Beijing, who have introduced innovative windows capable of trapping pollutants. To be precise, this breakthrough involves the use of a series of polymers containing nitrogen, usually found in items such as rubber gloves or tents, which are capable of sequestering the majority of air-polluting substances.
This material could be integrated into windows by creating a nanofibre screen added over the glass surface, making it a key component in the architecture of cities such as New York, Shanghai, or Beijing. The polymer is applied over the surface through blowing, a technique similar to spraying. An air flow delivers droplets of the polymer solution, forming an extremely thin nanofibre layer capable of keeping polluting particles at bay which, otherwise, would enter the buildings freely.
The tests included in the report published by Nano Letters claim that a window covered by a nanofibre layer, undergoing Beijing´s severely thick and extremely polluted air conditions, managed to filter 90% of harmful particles for 12 hours.
As of yet, this polymer is unable to eradicate the issue of urban pollution but, at least, could turn our homes into a safer, more breathable environment.