LIFE Project Cover Photo

Sustainability of photocatalytic technologies on urban pavements: From laboratory tests to in field compliance criteria

Reference: LIFE13 ENV/ES/001221 | Acronym: LIFE-PHOTOSCALING



The key European Union air quality directives include the Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC), the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (2008/1/EC) and the National Emission Ceilings Directive (2001/81/EC). Among other things, these directives aim to reduce air pollution associated with particulate matter, volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxide and ozone. Depending on the extent of exposure to outdoor air pollution, the negative impact on human health can range from acute health effects and minor eye irritation, to severe chronic health issues including upper respiratory symptoms, chronic respiratory diseases, asthma, cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer. Some of these diseases require hospital treatment and can be fatal. At global level, air pollution is estimated to be responsible for approximately 800 000 premature deaths each year. It is estimated that asthma has 7-10% prevalence worldwide. Recent studies have demonstrated the existence of an explicit relationship between exposure to air pollutants and cases of childhood asthma – both the occurrence of the disease and exacerbation of childhood asthma. One proposed solution is to use photocatalytic technology for air purification.


LIFE-PHOTOSCALING´s objective was to demonstrate the validity of photocatalytic technology in urban agglomerations for air purification. The project aimed to establish instruments to enable the scaling-up of photocatalytic technology from the laboratory to applications in cities, by developing a decision-support tool and by assessing the sustainability of different solutions in different environments to encourage the widespread uptake of this technology. LIFE-PHOTOSCALING therefore aimed to bridge the gap between research, policy and widespread implementation of the technology. Specific objectives included: development of two demonstration platforms at an intermediate pilot-plant technical scale; technical development of a prototype for in-situ measurement of photocatalytic efficiency; development of performance indicators; and the validation of the decision-support tool under real conditions in the city of Madrid. The results will be submitted as draft proposals to the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) (Technical Committee 386 “Photocatalysis”), and to other national standardisation groups.


LIFE-PHOTOSCALING successfully demonstrated the validity and sustainability of photocatalytic technology incorporated in pavements in urban areas for air purification.

The project team constructed a decision-support tool, called the Photoscaling Decision Maker, which allows for a comparative evaluation of the suitability of photocatalytic products under specific environmental circumstances. This tool was implemented within a user-friendly web application, capable of working in any electronic device. The tool provides three different outputs: 1) conformity criteria of a photocatalytic product; b) Life Cycle Assessment; and 3) estimation of the percentage of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) removal in a specific environment. The tool was tested on site after applying a photocatalytic product to 4 200 m2 of pavement slabs on a street in Madrid. It should be noted that the assumptions and simplifications of the model underlying the decision-support tool make it suitable for comparing different photocatalytic product, rather than as a predictive tool.

An analysis of the long-term environmental benefits of the LIFE-PHOTOSCALING project, shows that it is contributing to breaking the barriers to push through the practical implementation of photocatalytic technology. Extensively applied, this technology could reduce the concentration of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by about 5% in five years, and 15% in 10 years, in Madrid, without the emission of nanoparticles as airborne contaminants due to degradation of the pavements. Additionally, the photocatalytic technological, if widely applied, will contribute to the implementation of EU environmental policy and legislation, in particular the Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution and the priority objective of the 7th EAP “Healthy environment for healthy people”. The most challenging part of the project was related to the construction of the asphalt pavement slabs, which implied a delay and higher expenses than foreseen. LIFE-PHOTOSCALING has a high level of both innovation and demonstration value. There were no previous conformity criteria or life-cycle analysis for such photocatalytic products being applied in cities. The project team overcame many problems to achieve efficient monitoring of the technology’s efficiency, which does not follow a standardised protocol. The project results also provided valuable data on the durability of photocatalytic materials, which contain titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles, and their possible deleterious effects in open air environments in contact with many people. Furthermore, the decision-support tool, which involves the analysis of conformity criteria and global service life, will allow for the evaluation of the technical and economic viability of each solution based on this technology on a large scale. It is expected that this technology will provide low-cost and effective solutions for controlling the concentration of pollutants in the air in densely-populated urban areas.

LIFE-PHOTOSCALING’s solution has the potential to greatly improve air quality. Taking action on air pollution can have multiple benefits. Some greenhouse gases are also common air pollutants. In this context, photocatalysis can also fight potent greenhouse gases, as photocatalyzed reactions are able to transform or destroy almost all long-lived greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-12 and CFC-11 – which account for about 96% of the direct radiant forcing, and also short-lived climate forcers like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), NOx and soot, which make an important contribution to climate change. Therefore, ensuring that Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan/After-LIFE Conservation Plan (see "Read more" section).climate and air policies are mutually beneficial can help combat climate change and improve air quality at the same time.

Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).


Reference: LIFE13 ENV/ES/001221
Start Date: 01/10/2014
End Date: 30/06/2019
Total Budget: 1,761,341 €
EU Contribution: 863,170 €
Project Location:


Legal Status: PAT
Address: Serrano 117, 28006, Madrid, España
Contact Person: Ramón Hingorani
Tel: 0034913020440

LIFE Project Map



  • Air pollutants
  • Cleaner technologies
  • Life Cycle Assessment-Management
  • Urban design (urban-rural)
  • Pollutants reduction


  • decision making support
  • urban area
  • indicator
  • air pollution
  • pollution control
  • road construction material


Name Type
MCC(Ayuntamiento de Madrid), Spain Participant
UPM(Universidad Politecnica de Madrid), Spain Participant