ActiveAir: cleaning the air one step at the time
Large cities such as London often have to deal with poor air quality, mostly due to carbon emissions caused by traffic and factories. Air pollution is linked to conditions such as heart disease, lung cancer and asthma, causing tens of thousands of early deaths each year in the UK alone.
As a concept, the shoe, with a striking, bubbly appearance, aims to raise awareness about the high levels of pollution in London, but can also make a real difference, thanks to the filtration system in the sole.
Air filtration itself is a common technology, but is an energy intensive process. That’s why the designers, Sam Cryer, Sabina Weiss, Sam Roots, Yoojin Jung, and Inês Marques, designed the shoes to filter the air at ground level, using the weight movement of the wearer.
The team took inspiration from the way lungs work. With each step the wearer of the shoes takes, a one-way valve lets in polluted air, which is then pushed out through the layers of filters in the sole. This way, the harmful particulates are trapped and clean air comes out.
“With 10 million Londoners moving around daily, the action of walking can be used as a pump and hence a shoe was designed to encompass a filter which would spring back with your step, sucking in dirty air and pushing out clean air on stepping down,” the designers say. “With each pair of shoes having the capacity to filter 2.5l per second, someone wearing the shoe will filter as much as they breathe in when wearing them. This means that over a 1 km walk, the shoes will filter over 8 times the volume of air a car will emit.”
ActiveAir is currently investigating materials to filter out particles as small as 2.5 µm (PM2.5), whilst providing optimal haptic feedback to the users step.
Photos: Sam Cryer, Sabina Weiss, Sam Roots, Yoojin Jung, and Inês Marques