Luis Rodriguez Alfaro, Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon
Design of Solar-Driven Self-Cleaning and Antimicrobial Magnesium Oxychloride Cement Panels
Written by Richard Wu
Photocatalytic materials, which are materials that use light to facilitate a chemical reaction, have drawn interest in construction due to their potential to help reduce air pollution, dirt accumulation, and bacterial growth on the surfaces of building structures.
Luis Rodriguez Alfaro from the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon has been developing smart cement material alternatives to the Portland cement commonly used in construction today. His research group has been studying magnesium oxychloride cement (MOC), which is more environmentally friendly, mechanically stronger, more fire-resistant, and a better insulator than conventional Portland cement. By embedding the MOC with photocatalytic titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles, the researchers have produced a cement that has self-cleaning properties when exposed to sunlight. Their experiments show that when exposed to sunlight, the MOC with TiO2 nanoparticles was able to self-clean several different chemical pollutants and inhibit growth of E. coli bacteria.
While this work is still in progress, it shows that MOC with TiO2 nanoparticles has a lot of promise as a smart construction material. With its self-cleaning and antibacterial properties, the MOC with TiO2 nanoparticles could soon be used to construct cleaner buildings and cities.