Take a deep breath – or better not?
Air pollution in the cities continues to make the headlines. Berlin is just the latest European city to introduce driving bans in order to lower the level of particle pollution. More and more people move to urban areas, leading to an even higher population density, more cars, more trucks, and more pollutants in the air.
The air that we breathe contains particulate matter from combustion (car engines, industry, heating) as well as metallic particles, organic compounds, etc. Once breathed in, these tiny particles reach our lungs, bloodstream, brains, and nervous system. The effects: increased risk of lung diseases, cardiovascular problems, heart attacks, blood clots, inflammations, and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Nanotechnology for cleaner air
Breathing clean air should be a basic human right – but how to protect this right without infringing upon other basic needs like mobility, warmth, the supply of goods? This is where ENS comes in. The company’s startup project, the air purifying system “Merlin”, has just been granted a convertible loan and thus entered the next stage in E.ON’s :agile accelerator program.
Merlin, like all of ENS’ air purifying systems, is based on nanotechnology. The system uses patented positive ionization technology to clear the surrounding air of dust, soot, finest and ultra-finest particle pollutants. Even viruses and bacteria are removed from the air – used in public buildings or highly frequented locations, the air purifiers could help prevent the spread of diseases. The ionization technology makes filters obsolete, which means no need to change, replace, and dispose them. This reduces both the maintenance and energy costs.
The most compact of the ENS systems, Merlin is designed for domestic, small business, and catering market applications. The family business, run by Lia van de Vorle and her four daughters, also developed larger nanotechnology-based purifying systems able to produce huge quantities of clean air.
From car park air depolluting to the “Lungs of the City”
ENS Clean Air already has a number of systems up and running. In the small town of Cuijk, Netherlands, ENS installed two “Aufero” air purifying systems – Merlin’s big brothers, as it were – in a car park located in the heart of the city. Before the installation, polluted air from the car park had spread into the city center and people had complained of headaches and nausea. The Aufero systems now clean 70 percent of the air. The feedback from neighbors and people working near the car park has been unanimously positive.
This success led Lia van der Vorle to think bigger: why not take air purification to the next level and use the wind as a natural distributor? In a joint open space project with the University of Eindhoven, ENS installed an Aufero system that runs 24/7, cleaning up to 300,000 m3 of air per hour – at only 360 W/h per 10,000 m3. The wind spreads this clean air around the city, thus improving the overall air quality within a wider radius.
Fresh air where it’s needed most
ENS’ air purifying systems can be used in industrial and agricultural plants, hospitals, schools, restaurants, heavily polluted structures like car parks or tunnels, along highways, and in public urban spaces. In 2016, ENS designed a “smog-free tower” in collaboration with Studio Roosegaarde that went on tour to various Chinese cities, cleaning 30,000 m3 of polluted air per hour and using no more power than a water boiler.
A second smog-free tower is now installed in Rotterdam. Another pilot project, the “Urban Oasis” consists of an Aufero system with a dome-like structure that creates an enclosed clean air zone. The Urban Oasis is currently installed at the Botanical Garden of Bogor, Indonesia. CleanAIRea, one of the latest projects, combines an Aufero system with a roof to create public urban clean air zones where people can enjoy fresh air while being protected against rain or sunrays. On a smaller, but no less important scale, the company’s Merlin system – the :agile project – is ideal for households, putting the power of clean air into the hands of normal consumers.
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