The Church that Clears the Air?

In 2003, following five years under construction, the Jubilee Church (Dio Padre Misericordioso) in Rome opened to the public. This magnificent looking structure, with its three concentric concrete arcs, was designed by the renowned architect Richard Meier. But the striking design is not the only unique aspect of this structure. The Jubilee Church is covered by a special coating of titanium dioxide – applied because of its ability to maintain its shiny white color. Unknown to the contractor at the time, it is also a photocatalyst that performs oxidation of organic contaminants when exposed to UV light from the sun.

Laboratory analysis of the titanium dioxide pigment used to cover the Jubilee Church revealed that it can decompose smog and other carbon-based contaminants caused by the burning of fossil fuels. Later tests included covering 230 meters of road with the new material resulting in a 20-70% decrease in car pollution depending on the weather.

The Italian company Italcementi Group, which took part in the creation of the Jubilee Church, commercialized the material under the name TX Active for use as a "green" (but white) coating for buildings.

Image credit: Andrea Jemolo.