There is growing awareness of the importance of the quality of the air that we breathe — not only outside, but also inside enclosed spaces such as our homes, offices, schools, hotels, gyms and more.
We inhabit a world in which thousands of tons of pollutants are emitted into the air each year, ravaging both our environment and our health. And, of course, these pollutants cannot be kept out of our homes. According to the World Health Organization, the premature deaths of some seven million people worldwide each year can be attributed to air pollution. In Israel alone, it is estimated that around 2,500 people die annually as a result of air pollution health damage — a number which is expected only to increase with the country’s growing population.
Airovation Technologies Ltd. is an Israeli company that is facing down this challenge by developing solutions that purify polluted air and enrich it with oxygen. Established some seven years ago, its technology is rooted in the research of Prof. Yoel Sasson and Dr. Uri Stoin of the Hebrew University’s Casali Center of Applied Chemistry in Jerusalem.
“We started out by addressing life-threatening smoke,” says Airovation’s co-founder and CEO, Marat Maayan. “In 2018, when the company was awarded Innovation Authority support, we took on the improvement of air quality in enclosed spaces as our second focus.”
Reducing excess carbon dioxide in enclosed spaces is a major emphasis in any solution to air quality problems. “In the open air, carbon dioxide levels are about 420 parts per million (ppm),” says Maayan. “In a well-ventilated house, they rise to 500 to 600 ppm — but in poorly ventilated areas, levels leap to 1,400 to 1,500 ppm, and can reach as high as 2,000 ppm. With the vast majority of us spending most of the day indoors, these very high concentrations can have serious health consequences.”
Studies show that prolonged exposure to carbon dioxide concentrations of 1,400 ppm can cause cognitive decline. High carbon dioxide concentration during prolonged exposure can cause labored breathing, headache, sleeping difficulties and more, continues Maayan.
With awareness of the problem especially acute in Korea and China (particularly with children, in whom exposure to high concentrations of carbon dioxide has implications for their academic achievement), Airovation is working with leading players in Korea’s home appliance sector. “After two rigorous years, we’ve completed a series of successful tests in Korea,” says Maayan. “This is another step forward in cooperation with one of the world's leading air purification brands. It’s paving the way to development of a home appliance to purify and enrich our air.
“It differs from current technologies,” he continues. “They are exclusively about air filtration, whereas our chemical research has found a way to generate free superoxide radicals in an aqueous environment. This triggers a process that breaks down pollutants, destroys their microbiology and enriches the air with oxygen — all this with immediate effect.”
Caring for our Air
The Airovation Technologies patent tackles the entire spectrum of microbiological contaminants — viruses, bacteria, fungi, mold, spores and virtually everything else in the air, and has already demonstrated its effectiveness
“We’ve conducted a series of tests in recognized, accredited laboratories over many months,” says Gil Tomer, Airovation co-founder and VP of operations. “Their success leads us to believe that our system will help reduce transmission of bacterial and viral infection in enclosed spaces — which strikes a particular chord at this time of coronavirus pandemic.”
The company is collaborating with major global players, who will integrate Airovation technology into their core devices. It believes that the first will be on the market by 2023.
Green Energy and Greenhouse Gas Reduction
What’s next for Airovation Technologies? The company is continuing to expand. One important direction in which it is investing is developing customized air quality systems, harnessing its technology to tailor systems to their users. Another is treating carbon dioxide emissions in industrial processes such as hydrogen production. With global warming, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are rising planet-wide. A Nature Scientific Reports article published last year found that CO2 concentrations in the earth’s atmosphere are at levels not known for over three million years. In the past half-century alone, according to different sources, atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased by 10 percent.
“We’re looking at ways of converting industrial carbon dioxide into minerals and oxygen,” says Maayan. “We’re currently examining potential solutions together with energy companies — particularly those concerned with hydrogen production — both in Israel and globally.”
“Our vision is simply stated,” says Tomer. “It’s to improve quality of life and quality of the environment by treating the quality of the air.”