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Noxer block

Noxer blocks are blocks of cement mortar with a 5-7mm thick surface layer of Titanium(IV)oxide (titanium dioxide), which is a heterogeneous catalyst, on it. Titanium(IV) oxide is a photocatalyst that uses sunlight to absorb and render oxides of nitrogen (NO and NO2) harmless by converting them to nitrate ions (NO3-), which are then either washed away by rain or soaked into the concrete to form stable compounds [1].


When titanium dioxide is exposed to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight, it absorbs the radiation and electron excitation occurs. The following reactions then occur on the surface of the titanium dioxide crystals:

Photolysis of water: H2O → H+ + OH (hydroxyl radical) + e-

O2 + e- → O2- (a superoxide ion)

The overall reaction is therefore:

H2O + O2 → H+ + O2- + OH

The hydroxyl radical is a powerful oxidising agent and can oxidise nitrogen dioxide to nitrate ions:

NO2 + OH → H+ + NO3-

The superoxide ion is also able to form nitrate ions from nitrogen monoxide:

NO + O2- → NO3-

The oxidation of NOx to nitrate ions occurs very slowly under normal atmospheric conditions because of the low concentrations of the reactions. The photochemical oxidation with the aid of titanium dioxide is much faster because of the energy absorbed by the coating on the block and also because the reactants are held together on the surface of the block. The reaction using titanium dioxide shows a greater oxidising power than most other metal-based catalysts.

Noxer blocks have replaced ordinary paving in around 30 towns in Japan, originally having been tested in Osaka in 1997 and can also be found underfoot in the City of Westminster (London).

The noxer blocks aim to reduce these pollution levels and therefore lower the amount of photochemical smog.



  1. ^ Paved with titanium' an article by Stephanie Makins, Chemistry Review, 2002, Volume 11, Number 2

External Links

  • Titanium Dioxide: Environmental White Knight?, Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 109, Number 4, April 2001
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Noxer_block". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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