Transparent nanofibre air filter cleans air and offers UV protection

The air quality inside houses often leaves much to be desired, especially if the outside air is polluted as well. In an attempt to combat air pollution inside houses, researchers at the National University of Singapore created a novel nanofibre solution, converting non-woven mesh into see-through air filters that clean air, improve airflow, and offer UV-protection.

The air filter consists of a non-woven mesh, on which a nanofibre solution applied, leaving it to dry naturally. Using phthalocyanine, a chemical compound commonly used in dyeing, the team engineered organic molecules that could self-organise, similar to the stacking of building blocks, to form nanoparticles and subsequently, nanofibres. These nanofibres, which exist in the form of an organic solution, easily “cling” onto the non-woven mesh when dispersed onto the material.

According to the press release, the material is eco-friendly, and easy and cost-efficient to produce, while working twice as well as commercial air filters.

The new material can filter up to 90 per cent of hazardous particles that are less than 2.5 microns in size – also known as PM2.5 particles and associated with serious health threats – while maintaining air flow that is 2.5 times better than in current respirators, resulting in better breathability. The filtration efficiency can still be further enhanced.

The material could potentially installed in front of windows. Because the material is transparent, it still lets in light, but blocks out harmful UV rays.

In the long run, it may even be possible for a do-it-yourself kit to be made available commercially for consumers to make air filters at home.

Photos: National University of Singapore