The heat island effect can make temperatures in cities ten degrees warmer than surrounding rural areas. This is not only uncomfortable for residents but can also have dangerous health impacts during heat waves. To address this issue, Pavement Technology Inc. has created a new treatment for roads that would help cool things down.
Their spray-on treatment, called A.R.A.-1 Ti, was developed in collaboration with Louisiana State University researchers. Its base is titanium oxide, a common ingredient in sunscreen and paint. The spray works as a photocatalyst, so ultraviolet light activates the compound’s electrons, absorbing and dispersing heat and light.
In addition to cooler temperatures, the spray also absorbs car exhaust fumes, improving air quality. According to the company, spraying one mile of road with the product offers the same air quality benefits as planting 20 acres of trees. Plus, it can rejuvenate aging roads, reducing the frequency of repaving.
The cities of Orlando, Charlotte, Raleigh, Greenville, and Charleston are all currently testing out the product and sending road samples to researchers at Texas A&M University to confirm the efficacy of the spray.
Tech solutions such as these can make a difference in building more climate change-resistant cities, but they must be paired with emissions-reduction action and additional cooling solutions such as tree planting.