Infrastructure organisation Britpave is pushing for widespread use of concrete roads that absorb nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions from vehicles.
Highways England is currently looking at solutions like 9m high pollution barriers across the strategic road network or the use of temporary 60 mph speed limits at peak times.
Britpave chairman Joe Quirke said: “Highways England may well want to look at new concrete technology developments that offer the exciting possibility of concrete roads that absorb NO2 pollutants
“The addition of titanium dioxide to concrete means the concrete actually eats pollutants.”
Titanium dioxide (TiO2) is a photocatalytic material that reacts in sunlight to absorb nitrate oxides and convert them into harmless nitrates.
It is increasingly available as a pavement spray or as an additive to concrete and adds 5 – 10% to the cost of a concrete road.
Quirke said: “Pollutant eating concrete roads may sound like science fiction but they are a very real solution that should be considered.
“Plus they are not the only environmental benefit of concrete roads.
“In addition, concrete roads can also be self-heating to reduce ice and snow-build-up, self-healing to reduce the need for repair and maintenance and energy conductive for easy wireless charging of electric vehicles as they travel over them.
“Plus, their thinner pavements, longer performance life and reduced maintenance means a reduced life cycle carbon footprint.”