- A company has developed an air filter for car interiors called ‘Airbubbl.’
- Pollution inside cars is a much bigger problem than people think according to Professor Matthew Johnson, co-founder of Airlabs.
- The filters can be replaced every 6-12 months depending on car usage.
- Orders are currently being taken on Kickstarter.
They say the Airbubbl is the first technology shown to effectively remove nitrogen dioxide and other traffic pollution from inside cars.
Project lead Professor Matthew Johnson, from the University of Copenhagen, told Reuters: “When you’re in your car you’re directly in the lanes of traffic and taking air into the car from the exhaust of cars in front of you. This means there are greatly elevated levels of air pollution inside of a vehicle. We’ve measured them in London. They could be between 40 and 20 times above the accepted exposure limits for both nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.”
Toxic air pollution is passed through the air inlets inside cars, with emissions from diesel vehicles particularly problematic.
The Airbubbl draws air in through a nano carbon filter.
“We have chemically engineered a nano carbon filter that removes nitrogen dioxide, ozone and odour from the air stream,” said Johnson. “We also have a high performance particle filter that’s removing soot and road dust, brake dust, and other components.” This is combined inside a case that can run on batteries or plug into the car’s cigarette lighter.
He added: “There are quiet fans at the two ends of the device and we’ve used computational fluid dynamics to direct the airflow towards the passengers.”
Johnson says that while many cabin air filters remove small particles, they do not remove nitrogen dioxide and other harmful gases.
A prototype of the device was independently tested in London inside the ‘Smogmobile’ – a mobile pollution detection vehicle laboratory made by UK firm Enviro Technology.
It drove around London measuring pollution levels with the Airbubbl both switched on and off. Within ten minutes of switching on Airbubbl, NO2 concentrations inside the car fell by 95 percent.
The device is lightweight and attachable to the back of car headrests. Its makers say driving for two hours per day in a polluted area would require changing the filter once a year.
It was built by start-up Airlabs, a team of atmospheric chemists and airflow engineers based at the university campus in the heart of Copenhagen Science City.
Professor Nick Hewitt, of the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University, told Reuters by email: “Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is toxic to humans and is a regulated pollutant outdoors. If the Airbubbl product does reduce in-car concentrations of NO2 by 95 percent, as claimed, then it may be of benefit to professional drivers and others who spend significant periods of time in heavy traffic, as vehicles are an important direct and indirect source of NO2.”
A Kickstarter campaign has raised £50,000 (67,500 USD) and ends on December 8.
The team thinks professional drivers and parents of young children are likely to be the main purchasers and the technology could be extended to other public spaces.
“Maybe a cafe or a transportation system, or you could use it as a component inside of the air circulation system in buildings,” said Johnson.
Produced by Jasper Pickering