ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOX) –  The Missouri Department of Transportation and contractor Fred Weber Inc. have begun laying down a new type of concrete on a section of Route 141 between Ladue Rd. and Olive Blvd.

After laying down a normal layer of concrete, crews then apply a photo-catalytic additive of titanium dioxide.

Jesse Jonas, resident MoDOT engineer, explained how the so-called “smog-eating” concrete works.

“It just acts as a sponge,” Jonas said. “It takes those pollutants, holds them in there, and when the sun comes out the UV rays from the sun activate the cement and it breaks it down into harmless products.”

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It’s the first time this particular additive, which has been used in Europe, is being tested in the United States.

Based on results seen in places like Italy, Jonas says they can anticipate a reduction of up to 40% in hazardous nitrogen dioxide when the one-year trial period comes to an end next fall.

The process lets the department place two different concrete mixtures, one involving recycled concrete.

MoDOT officials say that helps to off-set the expensive cost of the titanium dioxide additive.

Transportation officials are testing the substance on a 1,500 foot section of the new Route 141, which opens up to traffic in mid-2012.

“What the driving public is going to notice is this additive, which is also used in paints and vinyl fences, has a self-cleaning property,” Jonas pointed out.  “So they’ll always notice this section of pavement as looking newer than (other roads) throughout the years to come.”

The concrete with the new titanium dioxide additive has an expected lifespan of 15 to 20 years, which MoDOT says coincides with their current road maintenance plan.



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