The photocatalytic paving slabs, which are made by applying titanium dioxide to cement, convert pollutant nitrous oxides (NOx) into water-soluble nitrates when they are exposed to light, oxygen and NOx at the same time. This means they are self-cleaning as well as pollutant-trapping.

SEAT estimates that the installation of the first phase of slabs has cut NOx pollution at the plant by 40%, and will install them on a further 26,000sqm of walkways in the complex before the end of 2018 – a move it claims will reduce NOx emissions by 5.2 tonnes annually.

The manufacturing giant is also investigating whether it can apply paints with the same decontamination properties to the 147,000sqm of exterior walls on the plant’s workshops.

Built-in sustainability

The move comes as SEAT announced that it has surpassed its key sustainability goal of cutting its environmental impact by 25% by 2020, against a 2011 baseline, two years early, reporting instead a 35.5% reduction

After investing £5.25bn in sustainability projects in 2017, carmaker has now set a new ambition of cutting its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by half by 2025 in a bid to halve its overall environmental footprint by the same deadline.

One of SEAT’s largest environmental initiatives is its 11MW “SEAT al Sol” solar installation, which consists of 53,000 solar panels installed on the roof of the Martorell plant.

At 276,000sqm, it is the biggest solar plant in the automotive industry in Europe and generates more than 17 million kWh each year – more than 25% of the energy needed to for the plant’s annual production of SEAT Leon cars.

To further its onsite array of sustainable features at the plant, SEAT is now installing more efficient chimneys in a bid to achieve energy savings of 11.7 GWh each year by recovering energy that would otherwise be lost from the bodywork drying ovens in one of the workshops. The new chimneys will trap the hot air and use it to heat a water circuit used in the car body paint processes, cutting 2,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

Sarah George

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