Quantification of the environmental benefits of ultrafine/nanotitanium dioxide photocatalyst coatings for concrete pavement using hybrid life-cycle assessment

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The use of titanium dioxide (TiO2) ultrafine particulates as coating for concrete pavement have received considerable attention in recent years as these coatings can trap and absorb organic and inorganic air pollutants by a photocatalytic process. Despite these promising benefits, the promotion of TiO2 coatings based on a single factor such as air quality does not provide a complete evaluation of this technology and may omit critical environmental factors that should be considered in the selection of sustainable materials. The objective of this study was to determine the life-cycle assessment of TiO2 coating technology based on a hybrid life-cycle methodology. To achieve this objective, a life-cycle inventory that quantifies the energy, abiotic raw material inputs, and emission of TiO2 coatings from cradle to grave were developed. Based on this inventory, life-cycle impact assessment of TiO2 coatings for concrete pavement was conducted using the BEES impact assessment model. The use of titanium dioxide coating reduces the concentration of harmful pollutants by a photocatalytic process, and therefore, reduces the environmental impacts in four main categories: acidification, eutrophication, criteria air pollutants, and smog formation. However, during the production phases and due to the consumption of fossil energy, titanium dioxide will cause an increase in global warming, fossil fuel depletion, water intake, ozone depletion, and impacts on human health. Based on the overall environmental performance of this product, life-cycle assessment shows that titanium dioxide coating has an overall beneficial effect on the environment. © 2010 ASCE.

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Journal of Infrastructure Systems

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