The demand for these filters, which have three times the airflow of earlier models, is growing in places like California as the state continues to battle wildfires. Since the start of the year, the state has fought 7,900 wildfires that have burned more than 3.6 million acres. The most recent fires that started August 15 have claimed 26 lives. But those most recent fires have also spewed unprecedented amounts of pollution into the air that is being breathed by millions.
San Francisco-based Molekule raised $58 million in February to expand its business with a transformative technology that sucks a wide range of pollutants out of the air and destroys them. It attacks viruses, mold, and bacteria, according to research by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab’s Indoor Environment Group and Aerosol Research and Engineering (ARE) Laboratories.
The company already has products on the market aimed at taking pollutants out of the home and helping people with allergies. In places like California and Australia, where wildfires have forced many out of their homes or indoors, these types of products are in high demand.
Like the previous models — the Molekule Air Mini, the Air Mini+, and the larger Molekule Air — the new business-focused filter uses the company’s patented photoelectrochemical oxidation (PECO) technology, which was developed by Yogi Dharendra Goswami, a recognized expert in solar technology.
But Yogi Goswami decided to switch gears to focus on asthma affecting his son Dilip, who now serves as CEO of Molekule. Yogi Goswami, who is chief technology and science adviser at Molekule and a professor and director of the Clean Energy Research Center at the University of South Florida, started research related to the project at the University of Florida more than 20 years ago.
He created what he called Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) technology, which first debuted in the Molekule Air, a larger air purifier that came to market at a discounted price of $500 in 2016 and began selling at its full retail price of $800 in 2017.
The new filters are built with three times the airflow, three sizes of particle sensing, and multiple ways to protect against pollutants.
How Molekule cleans the air
Poor air quality has been a prominent global issue for the past several years. The American Lung Association states that more than 140 million Americans are living with unhealthy air, while the World Health Organization claims 9 out of 10 people across the globe breathe polluted air. And that’s before this summer’s wildfires polluted the air at record rates.
An advancing industrial sector, a heating climate, and a growing population have all contributed to the deterioration of air quality in developing and developed countries alike, with the United Nations saying air quality is the most important environmental health risk of our time.
PECO represents a big update to the industry-standard High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter created in the 1940s. Unlike traditional air purifiers that trap pollutants on a filter, where they can continue to grow and be released back into the air, PECO promises to destroy pollutants, eliminating them completely. PECO breaks down the pollutants at a molecular level, something most filters don’t do, and eliminates particles that are 100 times smaller than those captured by HEPA filters.
Molekule’s patented PECO technology has been validated in multiple third-party laboratory studies. Most recently, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s (Berkeley Lab) Indoor Environment Group found that the Molekule Air purifier effectively eliminates common volatile organic chemicals (VOCs), including formaldehyde, limonene, and toluene, as well as ozone, a pollutant highly regulated by the EPA.
Aerosol Research and Engineering (ARE) Laboratories also found that Molekule’s PECO technology was able to reduce the concentrations of bacteria, viruses, mold, and endospores in the tested air by more than 99.99%. Most recently, nationally recognized testing laboratory Intertek found that Molekule’s PECO technology was able to reduce 95% of particulate matter 0.3 microns in size and larger.
Molekule has more than 100 employees in San Francisco and Florida. Rivals include LIGC in Israel as well as makers of traditional HEPA air filters.
The new Air Pro has more sensor capability to break down detected particles into three sizes, from PM10 (pollen) and PM2.5 (dust) to smaller than PM1 (smoke) and down to particles 0.3 microns in size to help increase people’s understanding of what particles are potentially in the air they are breathing.
In addition to a 6-speed manual mode, Air Pro delivers two Auto-Protect modes, standard and quiet, to automatically regulate fan speed based on particle levels sensed in the air, all while keeping noise low.
You can control the airspeed with an app and check your air particle levels and filter status. The app can also tell you when it’s time to change your PECO filter. Each Air Pro is designed to clean 1,000 square feet of space.
Air Pro was recently adopted by former NFL tight end, actor and current Dancing with the Stars contestant Vernon Davis, who is also a Molekule brand ambassador and the franchise owner of five Bay Area Jamba Juice locations, in which he is integrating the devices.
The filter is available today for preorders through Molekule.com, BestBuy.com, and Amazon.com. Air Pro retails for $1,200, with filter subscriptions running $100 for a 6-month supply.
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