Innovations helping to tackle air pollution
In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly designated the 7th of September as the International Day of Clean Air for blue skies. The aim is to stress the importance of and urgent need to raise public awareness and to promote and facilitate actions to improve air quality. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 99% of the world’s population is now breathing polluted air, 7 million people die each year due to air pollution and it is one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally. To tackle this, innovators have been developing technologies to help improve the air we breathe.
Cloud seeding is a weather modification technique that improves a cloud’s ability to produce rain or snow. Silver iodide, or dry ice, is introduced into the air by rocket or plane to stimulate cloud condensation, causing ice crystals to form and water to condense into rain or snow.
Cloud seeding is most commonly used to increase rainfall as a drought management technique. However, it can also be used to clear some of the pollution from the air. China, which has the largest existing system, used it for this purpose in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
Image from patent number US7924545 BB, APPARATUS FOR CONTROLLING ATMOSPHERIC HUMIDITY (source: PatBase).
As a health and environmental issue, the fight against air pollution is played out on multiple levels, one of them being air treatment to reduce air pollution. Many filters have started to appear claiming to be able to filter out pollution from the air. Anglo-Italian company U-Earth has developed a bioreactor that digests pollutants and fine particles. It has already been installed to treat the air in the new Microsoft offices in Milan.
German company Purevento is developing mobile containerised filtration solutions, targeting mainly fine particles and nitrogen oxides. Aiming to treat large volumes of air up to 60,000 m3/h, Purevento was selected in a European tender to provide the solution to comply with the required NO2-limits along a motorway in Kiel.
Image from patent number DE102020122077 A1, AIR-CLEANING DEVICE AND METHOD FOR PROVIDING A RESPIRATORY AIR FLOW (source: PatBase).
Personal air purifiers
Air purifiers have been on the market for a few decades now and are very effective for cleaning the air in larger spaces, such as living rooms. Personal air purifiers have gained in popularity in recent years, with more people living in urban areas where pollution levels are higher. They are designed to remove pollutants and irritants from the air.
Taiwanese company LUFTQI has developed a battery-powered, portable air purifier called Luft Duo. The device is designed to be taken anywhere and it has a removable, washable filter, instead of using disposable HEPA filters making it a more sustainable alternative.
These innovations are helping to improve air quality with the aim of reducing the health implications of pollution. With climate change being inextricably linked to air pollution, one cannot be resolved without addressing the other. For this reason, in order to find a long-term solution to improve the air quality we breathe, an integrated approach to tackle both is needed and could result in significant co-benefits. To view the relevant patents for these innovations in PatBase, click here.
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