The air is dirty and the air is complex. It’s made up of countless different components and to truly get it clean advanced technology is required. To this end, Molekule air purifiers are designed to make the air healthier to breathe by capturing and destroying pollutants in the air. They use Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) technology to convert complex pollutants into safe components of the atmosphere like carbon dioxide and water, to mechanically capture particles and chemically destroy pollutants from the air we breathe. The Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) Intertek recently undertook a project to test the efficacy of Molekule Air to destroy volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and to capture particles in a bedroom sized room.
The tests were performed according to stringent standards informed by international scientific consensus that are used in China and Europe in addition to the US. The testing chamber, pictured above, was 30 cubic meters or about the size of a medium bedroom (10x10x10 feet). Analysis methods for VOCs included high performance liquid chromatography, gas chromatography, and mass spectrometry, which are considered the gold standard for chemical detection and analysis. Samples were collected from the chamber every five minutes for an hour, then every hour for another seven hours. For particles, a laser aerosol spectrometer and aerodynamic particle sizer were employed to get a precise measure of particle count in the chamber by the industry standard ANSI/AHAM AC-1-2015 every minute.
Capture of smoke particles
Molekule devices don’t just destroy organic matter, they also capture tiny particles from the air. The Intertek team tested this by pumping tobacco smoke into the test chamber. This smoke was generated according to standards set forth by the air purification industry and includes particles of almost all sizes. The results shown below focus on two particle size ranges- particles smaller than 0.3 microns, and particles that range from 0.3 to 1 micron. All particles smaller than 1 micron, also known as PM1, are easily inhaled into the lungs and transferred into the blood where they can damage internal organs.
Since even tiny particles have some weight, they tend to settle out of the air on their own, so the team also conducted what is known as a “natural decay” test. This is just a test without the air purifier running to see how the particles would fall to the ground naturally. We can then compare how many particles disappear as a result of natural decay against how many particles disappear with the air purifier running to get a good idea of how effective the purifier is.
The natural decay is represented by the upper pink line in the graphs below. It’s important to note that outside of the laboratory particles which settle to the ground can easily be stirred up again by foot traffic and air currents.
Small particles were removed by Molekule Air
This chart shows the effect of Molekule Air on particles smaller than 0.3 microns, which is just 300 nanometers or the size of an invisible particle of smoke. As you can see the number of smoke particles dropped quickly in about 23 minutes.
The team also measured particle capture of larger particles, such as those seen above in the 0.3 to 1 micron range, which is the size of a particle of dust. This is particularly interesting because 0.3 microns is the particle size used to rate all HEPA filters. The number of particles dropped significantly in about 20 minutes.
Selection of VOCs to represent indoor pollutants
After being sealed in the chamber, Molekule Air was exposed to a cocktail of three VOCs chosen for their unique properties and presence in indoor environments– formaldehyde, toluene, and d-limonene. A fan was running constantly to keep the pollutants evenly distributed in the chamber.
Formaldehyde is a very common household pollutant. It is considered a carcinogen and lung irritant. It’s most common sources in the home are off-gas from composite woods included in many different types of flooring and furniture.
Toluene is a solvent commonly used in paints, varnishes, and lacquers. It is closely related to the pollutants xylene and benzene that are components of gasoline. Toluene is known to have negative neurological effects at even low doses and can cause brain damage after long term exposure.
D-Limonene is a terpene found in citrus plants and is literally the smell of oranges and lemons. Skin allergies are sometimes caused by d-limonene and it has a tendency to form more dangerous substances when it reacts with other pollutants in the air.
VOCs were removed by Molekule Air
Destruction of formaldehyde by Molekule Air. Over an eight-hour timeframe, Molekule Air reduced formaldehyde by 90%.
Destruction of toluene by Molekule Air. Toluene was reduced as well, reaching concentrations almost undetectable by the instruments used in about 3 hours.
Destruction of d-limonene by Molekule Air*. Air had the highest efficiency against the molecule d-limonene, eliminating it beyond the ability to detect within 3 hours.
Molekule Air is also great for the home
These results are compelling because they show how effective running Molekule air in your home could be. The VOCs were not merely collected on a filter for later disposal. Rather, the PECO process destroyed the organic pollutants so they are no longer toxic. Compared to traditional filtration, this represents a novel and more effective approach.
Current filtration solutions do only that- they filter. PECO technology actually purifies the air, essentially restructuring any organic pollutants into common components of the atmosphere and removing particles.
*D-Limonene removed beyond detection limits