A new air purifying device could cut pollution from a wide variety of sources by as much as 90% in cities and as little as 10% in rural areas, according to researchers at the University of Chicago.
They hope their device will make air quality a much more important consideration when buying air purifiers, and that it will also help reduce the pollution caused by air conditioners.
The device uses tiny electrodes, called “dots,” placed on the ends of wires, to suck up the air.
The electrode absorbs CO2, but also captures oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur, and releases the remaining carbon dioxide.
The process has the potential to cut emissions by more than 80%, according to the researchers, published in Nature Energy.
A key benefit is that it can be operated with a smartphone, a portable power source, a home battery, or even a solar-powered device, according the researchers.
In cities, the device could reduce particulate matter by about 20%.
In rural areas in India and China, the air purification method could reduce pollution by about 50%.
“The fact that the device can be used in the home is really exciting,” said Tingting Wu, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Windmill Project.
“The power that you get is much greater than you get from an electric car.”
Wu and his team made their device from the common polymer clay that makes up the outermost layer of most air purging devices, and then applied it to a series of devices that had been specially coated with a type of plastic that absorbs sunlight.
The coating makes the electrodes more flexible and more flexible enough to work without the need for electrodes to be connected.
“This means we could have an extremely simple, inexpensive, scalable, cheap, and ubiquitous solution for air purified air in urban environments,” Wu said.
The researchers used a device they call the “Pair of Dots,” a small, thin, and lightweight device with two electrodes connected in a pair to each other.
They made the electrodes in the lab by attaching them to an air puritor, and applying the material to a small sheet of plastic.
They then coated the device with the material, which is then placed in a microwave oven, where the device was placed inside a vacuum chamber, where it heated to 300°F and left for about an hour.
They also heated the device in the microwave, which gave it a very low temperature.
Wu and others found that they could remove the electrodes from the device after about a week.
They measured a total of 4,400 carbon dioxide emissions in the city, about 2,000 nitrogen emissions, and about 700 sulfur emissions, with the device releasing about a third of those.
The team’s method of releasing CO2 from the air was a lot faster than the method used by conventional air purifyers.
They found that the energy released by the device, about 0.5 kilowatt-hours per kilogram of CO2 released, was enough to reduce air pollution by nearly 90% compared with conventional air filters.
“It was the most energy-efficient method of air purifcation for the world’s air pollution, and the most cost-effective method to reduce emissions of air pollutants,” Wu noted.
The study was published online in Nature Climate Change.
Wu said the device is more efficient because the electrons are longer, which makes them easier to transfer between electrodes.
The electrodes are also easier to hold and hold for longer periods of time, Wu said, which allows for greater efficiency.
“We think that we could do the same thing with batteries,” he said.
Wu thinks that the ability to release CO2 would make air purifications more widely used, and it could be beneficial for some areas.
“There are a lot of air quality problems, like in China and India, where there are very large emissions from industrial activity,” Wu added.
“If we could be able to reduce these emissions, that would be really good.”
Wu said that his team is currently working on a larger device that will also work in residential areas, and hopes to get funding to develop it into a commercially viable product.
The devices, which cost $1,000 each, could be used to reduce pollution in as few as a few days, and in as many as 10 days, Wu estimated.
The cost per kilowatthour is about $100, compared with $200 to $300 for conventional air filter systems.
Wu is currently developing the device for commercial use, and is looking at other commercial applications as well.
“Our next step is to try to make it more affordable and more scalable to other applications,” Wu told The Wall St. Journal.
“That would mean that the commercial market could come up with these devices, so that would make a big difference.”