In the two years since Molekule’s air purifier publicly released, claims of its impressive capabilities have spread around the web. Time magazine listed Molekule among the “Best Inventions of 2017,” Popular Science included the device as one of the “10 Greatest Home Innovations of the Year,” and the product won the Edison award™ for “Best New Product” in 2017. Due to its patented PECO technology, Molekule is significantly different from any other air purifier on the market. But you may be wondering: how does Molekule really live up to its accolades? Below, we examine the frequent claims surrounding Molekule to help explain the science behind the air purifier and the effectiveness of its performance.
Molekule and PECO claims
The Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) technology inside the Molekule air purifier works at the molecular level to break down pollutants. There are two filters in the Molekule air purifier: the Pre-filter and PECO-Filter. Similar to a more standard filter, the Pre-Filter helps protect the PECO filter by trapping larger particles, including:
- Pet fur
- Clothing and bedding fibers
The PECO-Filter is what sets Molekule apart from traditional air purifiers. Light shines on a filter membrane coated with catalyst, which starts a catalytic reaction on the surface of the filter. The device takesI pollutants that pass through and converts them into harmless substances, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide. The PECO-Filter can destroy indoor air pollutants such as:
- Mold spores
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Allergens, including pollen, dust and pet dander
- Bioaerosols, such as bacteria and viruses
Below are the primary claims of the effectiveness of Molekule’s unique technology, along with the facts and figures behind them.
Claim: Molekule’s revolutionary PECO technology can destroy airborne pollutants like allergens, bacteria, mold, VOCs, and viruses by breaking them down at the molecular level.
Facts: The pollutants listed above cause the most significant air quality concerns and are mostly made up of organic substances, which are compounds that contain carbon and hydrogen. The Molekule air purifier gets rid of these substances through chemical oxidation. During this process, the PECO-Filter breaks these organic compounds into components that are safe to breathe.
In 2018, Intertek, a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL), decided to test this claim. They used a representative sample of common household VOCs, made up of formaldehyde, toluene and d-limonene, to determine how well the Molekule air purifier could remove contaminants from a room.
The lab found that it only took the PECO technology a few hours to reduce airborne VOCs to below quantifiable levels. These results show that, unlike some of the other air purifiers on the market, Molekule can eliminate VOCs without risk of releasing them back into the air. For more information, check out our PDF explainer of the test, as well as our blog post on the results.
A report by the Aerosol Research and Engineering Laboratories (ARE Labs) confirms Molekule’s performance against organic pollutants. In this test, which is one of the most challenging tests that an air purifier can go through, researchers performed a “single-pass test” on the Molekule air purifier to see how capable it was at removing bioaerosols, like bacteria, viruses, mold and endospores, from the air.
Note: A single-pass test is the most challenging test that an air purifier can go through. In it, air is passed through the air purifier only once, meaning that the filter in the unit only has one chance to remove all airborne pollutants.
The ARE Labs report states that the Molekule air purifier significantly reduced the concentration of airborne bioaerosols that passed through the filter.
Claim: HEPA is the traditional standard for portable air filtration. PECO offers a revolutionary and effective method for destroying VOCs, which cannot be captured by HEPA. There is no possibility that mold gets released back into the air, unlike traditional filtration where mold is collected on filters and can potentially multiply.
Facts: HEPA filters can capture 99.97% of particles, like mold spores and grains of pollen, at a diameter of 0.3 microns. However, because all particle pollution is trapped on the surface of the HEPA filter, this can be a problem when it comes to mold spores. If left for too long, mold spores may start to grow on the HEPA filter, and be released back into the air. Unlike HEPA filters, PECO technology can destroy mold spores and other pollutants before they have an opportunity to accumulate.
Additionally, HEPA filters are ineffective against gaseous pollutants, such as VOCs, because the molecules that make up VOCs are much smaller than what a HEPA filter can handle. As a result, toxic gases in the air can pass right through HEPA filters.
Activated carbon, on the other hand, remove VOCs from the air through a process called “adsorption”—as air passes through a carbon filter, VOC molecules stick to the filter’s surface. However, carbon filters can become saturated with gaseous pollutants and must be changed out regularly to maintain their performance. Moreover, carbon filters cannot trap particle pollution.
Molekule’s PECO filter does not share the shortcomings of HEPA and carbon filters, because it is effective against both particle and gaseous pollutants. Not only does the PECO-filter contain innovative photocatalytic technology that operates at the molecular level, it’s also a fabric filter capable of removing particles from the air. Then the technology goes a step further by destroying the airborne pollutants like VOCs, airborne microorganisms, and allergens so they can’t penetrate through or evaporate from the filter.
Claim: Molekule’s PECO technology has been tested by people who participated in a pilot study, the results of which were published in the journal Allergy & Rhinology. The 46 participants had previously reported allergy or asthma symptoms.
Facts: From March 2015 to April 2017, researchers evaluated the impact of the Molekule air purifier in the homes of 46 people who recorded their nose and eye symptoms, as well as any impact on sleep, on a weekly basis. They found that people experienced changes in their symptoms and quality of sleep over the duration of the four-week study. The results, published in the journal Allergy & Rhinology, concluded that PECO technology could play a useful role in the future management of allergy and asthma symptoms.
All of the participants in the study reported some level of nasal or eye symptoms before trying out the Molekule air purifier. Each participant ran their Molekule for at least 12 hours each day while continuing their normal routine for managing their asthma or allergies.
Before it was published, the study was reviewed by the scientific community and found to meet the rigorous scientific standards required for admission into the medical journal.
Find out more about the study in our blog article, “See How Molekule Performed in First Study With Real People.”
The claims about the Molekule air purifier’s performance are unlike what many have seen before and naturally require more information to back them up. However, multiple research tests from the most rigorous labs in the nation have backed the product’s effectiveness against, VOCs bioaerosols and other indoor air pollutants. With solid research and scientific evidence demonstrating that it can destroy airborne pollutants, the Molekule air purifier can improve the air quality in your home or work space.