San Francisco-based technology startup Molekule recently introduced the world’s first molecular air purifier, bringing a patented technology to the category that eliminates a full spectrum of indoor pollutants by breaking them down on a molecular level.
According to the EPA, a backer of the new product, air indoors can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air and since on average, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, that exposure is harmful to health and well-being.
“Indoor air pollution is a global problem, resulting in deteriorating respiratory and health conditions,” CEO and co-founder Dilip Goswami said in a statement. “The HEPA filter, today’s market-leading technology, was developed in the 1940s as a part of the Manhattan Project and hasn’t evolved much since. It has become a commodity found in most households and air purifiers. It’s time for a new approach.”
“Clean air is an absolute necessity to our health and well-being, and access to clean air is a basic human right,” co-founder Dr. Yogi Goswami, Dilip’s father, said when the company launched in 2014. “I have personally seen the impact clear air can have as I saw my son growing up with asthma and allergies and finally being able to feel some relief with the air purifier.”
The patented, breakthrough technology developed by Molekule is PECO (Photo Electrochemical Oxidation), a process derived from 20 years of research and development led by Dr. Goswami. Molekule cleans and recirculates the air of a 600-square-foot room every 60 minutes, can be hooked up to Wi-Fi for the device to become smarter over time, and the companion iOS app enables remote control of the device and filter replacements.
So why did it take so long to further advance air filtration technology?
“As with many scientific breakthroughs, the initial process of applying photocatalysis for air purification was discovered many years ago and evolved through further research and development efforts to become increasingly efficient over time,” Dr. Goswami told Sustainable Brands in a recent interview. “I discovered this original process, known as PCO (photocatalytic oxidation), over 20 years ago and this evolved out of research that I was doing in solar energy at the time. Realizing the rate of pollutant destruction for this PCO process was very slow and inefficient, I continued to research. Through applying advancements from other fields like material science and solar photovoltaics, I was able to increase the quantum efficiency of the purification process by orders of magnitude. This new process is known as PECO, which is what Molekule is commercializing today.”
Molekule is set to introduce its first product - a portable consumer air purifier for use in homes, offices, transportation, etc - in early 2017, shipping first to its early pre-order customers (both pre-order batches have sold out and there is currently a wait list for the third). But Dr. Goswami told SB the long-term vision and goal of the company is to embed its technology directly into air-handling systems that service whole buildings, in order to maintain superior indoor air quality throughout the entire building. While Molekule is running small-scale pilot projects for its air-handling/duct-integrated units, its current focus is to roll out the portable air purification product to provide immediate relief for those who suffer from respiratory problems such as allergies and asthma.
A limited quantity of Molekule air purifiers will be available for pre-order at a special price of $499 USD, which includes one year’s worth of filters. The device determines when filters need replacement based on environment and usage; replacement filters will be automatically mailed to consumers for an annual fee of $99 a year. After the pre-order period, Molekule will retail for $799 USD.
“I hope this technology brings this gift to every family and every home,” Dr. Goswami said.