Mobile unit to measure emissions of nanoparticles from building materials

CSIC scientists have developed a method and a mobile unit for monitoring construction materials and the nanoparticles released from them. The equipment has been recently tested and the results exceed expectations.


The TEMIS equipment has been applied to compare different emissions of nanoparticles from different types of floor surfaces made of concrete, tiles or asphalt.Scientists at the Institute Eduardo Torroja of the CSIC, in Madrid, have developed a mobile device to assess the emission of micro and nanoparticles from building materials when these materials are submitted to different types of abrassion and wear. The mobile unit, called TEMIS, enables the simulation of urban environment conditions and different types of abrasions that materials can suffer during their lifespan. In addition, the device allows measuring the coefficient of friction and the wear rate wherever the material is placed, either in the lab or in the street.

 

The scientists have been recently perfecting the device. And they carried out first essays in the lab and in the street. The results demonstrate that the unit, which has been named TEMIS-1000, exceeds expectations.

The device has been developed in the framework of the European Project LIFE+ PHOTOSCALING, led and coordinated by Marta Castellote, a CSIC scientist. The Project is aimed at researching the scalability of photocatalytic technologies to reduce pollution in urban air.

The TEMIS equipment has been applied to compare different emissions of nanoparticles from different types of floor surfaces made of concrete, tiles or asphalt. The size of TEMIS is similar to other mobile systems on wheels, such as the workstations for monitoring air pollution.

The first results are promising, as the device exhibits a high sensitivity and reproducibility

At the moment, says Roman Nevshupa, a CSIC scientist responsible for the development, “the system has been designed to test flat materials which are horizontally placed, like concrete on roads or floor tiles, and which are also exposed to more damage than others”.  But the design, he adds, “could be easily adapted to assess vertically-placed materials (walls, boards…). The first results are promising, as the device exhibits a high sensitivity and reproducibility.

Nanopartícles to obtain advanced functionalities

Incorporation of nanoparticles allows to provide new properties which improve conventional materials. Some examples are coatings or paintings with hydrophobic nanoparticles to make them waterproof; or nanoparticles made of graphene, silica fume or carbon nanotubes for obtaining a very tough concrete.
Also, nanoparticles of photocatalytic materials, which chemically react when they are exposed to light, can be incorporated into paintings or building glass coatings. Another example are photocatalytic titanium nanoparticles that can be applied to urban concrete pavement to eliminate air pollutants through oxidation, when the concrete receives sunlight.

But erosion over the years can make the material to release some of these nanoparticles into the air, which can be a health hazard for humans and animals. That’s why regulations  have been set to limit their concentration in the air (Occupational Exposure to Titanium Dioxide.  Current Intelligence Bulletin Nº 63. Cincinnati, Ohio, USA: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health 2011. 120 pp.).

Contact:

Marisa Carrascoso Arranz
Área de Ciencias de Materiales
Vicepresidencia Adjunta
de Transferencia del Conocimiento (CSIC)
Tel.: + 34 – 91 568 15 33
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