"But bricks are also being marshaled to fight global warming. Dutch researchers at the University of Twente want to use titanium-laced bricks (pictured above) to scrub car emissions of pollutants, right where they're emitted.
This month, the doped bricks were installed as paving stones on a city street in the town Hengelo in the eastern part of The Netherlands. When car exhaust washes over the bricks, the harmful nitrogen dioxide reacts with the titanium in the presence of sunlight. Instead of being emitted into the air, the noxious gas is oxidized, turning into powdery nitrates, which are benign, naturally occurring compounds that rain easily washes away. Since cars burp the most emissions when accelerating or stopping, the researchers propose laying the bricks at busy intersections.
Architecture and design usually get the most attention when the scale's massive- kinetic, self-powered buildings, super-tall towers and the like. But if you're wondering what the future will look like, material innovations are the best index of how we'll be living fifty years from now, because they'll define the fabric of our cities."