An air purifier is an increasingly common consumer appliance that has potentially huge benefits for our health. Air purifiers remove the dust, allergens, and other particles from the air in a small room to make it more comfortable, especially for those of us with breathing problems like asthma. Here’s some of the biggest technological advancements in this new appliance field:
1. Airocide Uses NASA Tech To Purify Your Home
Most air purifiers work by pulling air through a dense HEPA filter, typically made of fiberglass, which catches larger particles. But not this one. Airocide is a filterless air purifier that looks like some kind of weird empty metal rectangle, based on technology that was originally developed by NASA.
Here’s the simplified version: if you’re going to get to Mars, your crew is going to have to have some kind of self-replenishing food source for the long journey, because we currently don’t have the technology to resupply them. The solution here is pretty obvious, even if it sounds like something out of science fiction: gardens in space. Plants are a good source of food that don’t take up too much room and produce the ingredients needed to make more plants for the future. But there’s a problem: plants produce a gas called ethylene, which dissipates into the atmosphere on Earth but which can cause problems in a sealed spaceship. And ethylene passes right through HEPA filters.
To solve this problem, NASA created air purification technology that replaces traditional filters with a densely packed series of glass tubes that oxidize even the smallest of particles on contact.
2.Molekule Doesn’t Just Trap Particles, It Destroys Them
Molekule has quite the reputation – this little startup that could was named one of TIME Magazine’s top 25 inventions of 2017 and has raised almost $15 million in investor funding. As mentioned above, most air purifiers catch harmful particles in a filter which has to be replaced every 6 months or so. But Molekule actually breaks down particles and destroys them – and it does so at a scale that catches particles 1000 times smaller than what a traditional HEPA filter can handle.
Here’s how it works, in brief: the filter is coated in nanoparticles that work on the principle of photo electrochemical oxidation, or PECO. These nanoparticles bind with airborne chemicals, bacteria, mold, viruses, and allergens, and the reaction with light breaks up these molecules and prevents them from growing back. There’s a more technical explanation – complete with a few independent studies – shown here. Molekule claims this technology outperforms Airocide by orders of magnitude, but we haven’t tested any of these, so you might take that with a grain of salt.
Also, as TIME notes, this advanced air filtration technology currently costs $800. Hopefully someone will be able to replicate this incredible achievement at a more consumer-friendly price in the future.
3. Wynd Cleans The Air Around You No Matter Where You Are
Wynd is the product of a Silicon Valley startup, an air purifier that can be clipped onto your clothing to provide a “personal bubble” of clean air as you walk around your home or even in the outdoors. It also lets you track the cleanliness of your air as well as other stats on your phone, jumping on the trend of wearable health devices like FitBit. Reviews suggest it currently has a short range that makes it impractical in a lot of situations, but the idea of a portable personal bubble of clean air may become sadly necessary if we continue the march of man-made climate change.