Engineers help develop air-cleaning sound barrier

People who live near highways can breathe a little easier, thanks to a new type of sound barrier that can help clean the air.

SmogStop Barrier developed by Guelph researchers will help reduce pollution.

The School of Engineering at U of G partnered with Guelph-based Envision SQ to develop the SmogStop Barrier, which can remove up to 50 per cent of air pollution. Testing was conducted at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Western University.

The walls are made of transparent acrylic, and a photocatalytic coating on the surface reacts with sunlight to convert harmful nitrogen compounds into nitrogen gas, which makes up 80 per cent of the Earth’s atmosphere and is safe to breathe. A channel behind the wall helps divert air downward, where it comes into contact with the coating. Plants at the bottom of the wall will also help remove particulate matter from the air.

According to Envision SQ, one kilometre of the barrier can remove 16 tonnes of air pollution a year, which is equal to removing 200,000 cars from that stretch of road.

Once the test results have been analyzed, researchers will continue to improve the walls, which could be ready for installation as early as 2016.

Image by Danielle Scott, Flickr.