Engineering of effective photocatalytically active structures is of great importance as it introduces a solution for some existing air pollution problems. This can be practically achieved through the bonding of particulate photocatalysts to the surface of construction materials, such as aggregates, with a suitable stable binding agent. However, the accessibility of the photocatalytically active materials to both the air pollutants and sunlight is an essential issue which must be carefully considered when engineering such structures. Herein, different amounts of commercial TiO 2 were supported on the surface of quartz sand, as an example of aggregates, with a layer of silica gel acting as a binder between the photocatalyst and the support. The thus prepared photocatalytically active aggregates were then supported on the surface of mortars to measure their performance for NOx removal. The obtained materials were characterized by electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), X-ray Diffraction (XRD), and UV-vis Absorption Spectroscopy. Very good coverage of the support's surface with the photocatalyst was successfully achieved as the electron microscopic images showed. FTIR spectroscopy confirmed the chemical bonding, i.e., interfacial Ti-O-Si bonds, between the photocatalyst and the silica layer. The photocatalytic activities of the obtained composites were tested for photocatalytic removal of nitrogen oxides, according to the ISO standard method (ISO 22197-1). The obtained aggregate-exposed mortars have shown up to ca. four times higher photocatalytic performance towards NO removal compared to the sample in which the photocatalyst is mixed with cement, however, the nitrate selectivity can be affected by Ti-O-Si bonding.
Hakki, A., Yang, L., Wang, F., Elhoweris, A., Alhorr, Y., & Macphee, D. E. (2019). Photocatalytic functionalized aggregate: Enhanced concrete performance in environmental remediation. Buildings, 9(2). https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings9020028