Sheffield scientists’ pollution-busting formula set to clean air at petrol stations

In Praise of Air by Simon Armitage. Picture by Linda Bussey
In Praise of Air by Simon Armitage. Picture by Linda Bussey
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A formula pioneered in Sheffield which sucks pollution out of the air could soon be used to help reduce traffic emissions at petrol stations.

The catalytic solution concocted by scientists at the University of Sheffield may soon be used to coat advertising flags at filling stations to remove harmful nitrogen oxide from the air.

The formula has already been used in Sheffield to create the world’s first air-cleansing poem.

The In Praise of Air poem, by the university’s Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage, was printed on material coated with microscopic pollution-busting particles of titanium dioxide. The particles use sunlight and oxygen to react with nitrogen oxide pollutants and purify the air.

The poem was first displayed on the side of the Alfred Denny Building on Western Bank in May 2014 and helped to absorb the pollution from 20 cars a day.

It is set to return to the spot this weekend and has been printed on a new substrate capitalising on the advances made since last year.

The poem was manufactured by Northern Flags, which also produces promotional flags and banners for petrol forecourts.

Managing director Iain Clasper-Cotte said: “We have been in discussions with many leading forecourt operators and outdoor display contractors.

“Many are interested in the potential benefits and we expect to see a slow adoption of it with a number of environmentally focussed brands over the next 18 months.

“Point of sale and construction are two obvious areas which could benefit from catalytic technology as they are around the places where people live and breathe so an opportunity to minimise pollution is essential.”