A lot of people who suffer from allergies hide inside their houses — especially in the spring. But your indoor air could be up to five times more polluted, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. To solve that problem, a company called Molekule is launching the first molecular air purifier — a two-foot-tall cylinder that sucks in and destroys the stuff that pollutes your air.
Molekule has a new technology called Photo Electrochemical Oxidation, or PECO, which uses UV-A wavelength LED lights to simulate solar light. This creates a chemical reaction on the filter's surface. The filter takes things like bacteria, allergens, mold, chemicals, and viruses; breaks them down into elements that aren’t harmful; then releases these elements back into the air. For example, Molekule can convert 3.9 million E. Coli bacteria into trace amounts of water, carbon dioxide, and elemental nitrogen in two minutes, the company says.
This air filter can be preordered today for $499 with a year of free filters. It’s expected to ship in early 2017, and will cost $799. New filters for Molekule can be bought through a subscription for $99 a year, and the device will automatically determine when your filters need to be replaced, sending you new ones.
Of course, air filters aren’t new. HEPA filters, which are used today in many popular air filters, have been around since the Manhattan Project in the 1940s. These suck in air and capture particles. But the co-founders of Molekule say their device gets rid of pollutants that are 1,000 times smaller than what HEPA filters catch, and HEPA filters can be harmful. "HEPA filters can only catch some pollutants and can be a place where mold and bacteria multiply," says Dilip Goswami, Molekule's CEO and co-founder. "PECO breaks down the full spectrum of pollutants," he says. Molekule is based on over 20 years of solar research by Dr. Yogi Goswami, Dilip’s father. Dilip co-founded the company with his father and sister, Jaya Goswami Rao.
In addition to being backed by traditional venture capital funding, Molekule was funded at the research stage by a grant from the Department of Defense, which has good reasons to be interested in a device that eliminates viruses from the air. The company is also backed by grants from the EPA. The science behind this air filter has been independently tested by the University of Minnesota and the University of South Florida.