Air Filters with Thermal Decomposition Ability for Pollutants

Air Filters with Thermal Decomposition Ability for Pollutants

Author: Maddi Langweil

Fine particulate matter (PM) produced, e.g., by burning fossil fuels, decreases air quality. Due to their small size, fine particulates can easily enter the lungs and bloodstream and cause health problems. Solutions such as air filters can alleviate this problem. However, filters need to be replaced frequently, which can be expensive. Thermal decomposition of the filtered pollutants could help to solve this issue and reduce costs.

Xiang Ji, Jing Kong, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA, and colleagues created an all-thermal-catalyst air filter (ATCAF) using a bottom-up synthesis method. The team created the air filter to collect fine particles efficiently and degrade them with heat to regenerate the filter. Na2Ti8O17 nanowires were produced in a hydrothermal reaction of TiO2 particles and NaOH at a temperature of 250 °C and self-assembled into hydrogels. Na2Ti8O17 was transformed into H2Ti8O17 by ion exchange and the resulting hydrogels were converted to aerogels by removing the solvent. Finally, the material was transformed into TiO2 aerogels by calcination at 600 °C.

The ATCAF has a filtration efficiency of over 99.999 % for PM2.5, i.e., PM with an aerodynamic diameter below 2.5 μm. The thin fibers and 3D fibrous structure of the ATCAF help lower the pressure drop that traditional filters like HEPA air filters cause. Since the filter can be regenerated by decomposing the pollutants using heat, the cost of filter replacements can be reduced. Due to the high melting point of TiO2, the filters can directly use the heat of the combustion process to decompose the pollutants created.



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