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The extreme heat dome looks like it’s “baking” lands in the US and Canada, showing the need for urgent adaptation so that cities don’t overheat and that means reducing urban heat. In addition to planting more trees, there may be other solutions to help keep cities cooler as the climate crisis worsens.
Pavement Technology Inc. has created a spray treatment on the pavement, called ARA-1 Ti, which the company says can reduce the temperature of the pavement. Developed in collaboration with Louisiana State University researchers.
The exact composition of this material remains a secret, but it is based on titanium dioxide, a compound used in many sunscreens, white paints and pharmaceuticals. Titanium dioxide is a photocatalyst, ultraviolet light activates the electrons of the compound, which absorb and disperse light and heat.
Marketed as a “sugar rejuvenating agent,” the Ohio-based company says the substance can also “revive aging asphalt,” a property that can also be very good, when children Roads across the American West cracked and buckled in the intense heat.
As if that weren’t enough, the material is also used to dissolve car exhaust pollution, including nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds. Through a chemical process known as photocatalysis, titanium dioxide generates energized electrons to break down toxins in the air. In a promotional video, the company claims that 1.6 kilometers of sidewalks sprayed with the compound can provide the same air quality benefits as planting 20 trees.
Spray paint to cool the road surface
The company does its own research and it says it has confirmed all of these attributes. Cities including Orlando, Charlotte, Raleigh, Greenville and Charleston are testing the compound. Pavement Technology then cuts asphalt samples from the treated areas, collects air quality and weather data, and then sends them to researchers at Texas A&M University for analysis. see how well it works.
Last year, Orlando International Airport in Florida used a similar treatment, and researchers found that it cut nitrous oxide pollution in half. Officials from Charleston County, South Carolina are hoping to see similar results.
In Charleston, the public works department is using this treatment on roads in the two neighborhoods of Union Heights and Rosemont, both of which are paved and adjacent to major highways. Both neighborhoods are also the epicenters of the heat island effect that occurs in densely built areas.
Buildings and asphalt roads can absorb the sun’s rays and give off heat, making these areas up to 4.4 degrees Celsius hotter than areas with lots of trees and greenery nearby. A solution like this is expected to help cool things down, bring huge benefits to public health, and save people money on cooling costs.
This sounds very exciting, but technologies like these are no substitute for comprehensive climate policy. To really keep cities safe from rising temperatures, we still have to work hard to reduce the fossil fuel industry and reduce carbon pollution as soon as possible.
Even if this technology is able to cool cities, it is not the only solution we can rely on. After all, adding trees and green spaces to cities not only lowers temperatures, but also benefits mental health and makes outdoor spaces more pleasant for people to gather. More natural spaces in cities can also help absorb more rainfall, limiting flooding.
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