Freshened up with $3.25 million in funding, Molekule is launching what it calls the world’s first molecular air purifier.
The San Francisco company says that it can eliminate the full spectrum of indoor air pollutants, breaking them down on a molecular level. The product is one of a series of Internet-connected devices that detects the quality of the air we breathe, and it’s one more expression of the Internet of Things, or smart and connected everyday devices.
To date, the company has raised $3.75 million since its 2014 founding. The new round was led by SoftTech VC, Crosslink Capital, and CSC Upshot. The company is also funded by additional grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The company says it is leveraging 20 years of academic research and development.
“Indoor air pollution is a global problem, resulting in deteriorating respiratory and health conditions,” said Dilip Goswami, CEO and cofounder of Molekule, in a statement. “The HEPA filter, today’s market leading technology, was developed in the 1940s as a part of the Manhattan Project and hasn’t evolved much since.”
Current air purifying technologies like HEPA rely on filters that capture and collect pollutants, where they can accumulate, multiply, and eventually get released back into the air. Molekule says it can eliminate pollutants 1,000 times smaller than what current filters can catch. By fully eliminating indoor air pollutants, Molekule doesn’t just offer noticeable relief to asthma and allergy sufferers — it provides a safe living environment for everyone, the company says.
The new technology is called photo electrochemical oxidation, or PECO, a process developed by Yogi Goswami, a recognized expert in solar technology. PECO works when a nanoparticle-coated filter is activated by light, generating a chemical reaction on the surface of the filter that breaks down pollutants including allergens, bacteria, viruses, mold, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Molekule has four worldwide exclusive patents to this technology and one additional patent pending.
“For over a decade, the EPA has recognized that indoor air is often 5 times — and in some cases even 100 times — more polluted than the air outside. Since people spend more than 80 percent of their time indoors, it is essential that they breathe healthy air in homes and other enclosed spaces,” said April Richards, EPA program manager, in a statement.
She added, “Molekule’s technology has the potential to offer an efficient method of purifying indoor air. EPA’s Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program, which provided the initial funding for this project, helps support the development and commercialization of technologies like these, which support the Agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment.”
Molekule works quickly (and quietly), cleaning and recirculating the air of a 600-square-foot room every 60 minutes. Molekule said the device can be connected to Wi-Fi and become smarter over time. The companion iOS app allows you to control the device remotely and seamlessly manage filter replacements.
A limited quantity of Molekule is available for preorder at $500 with one year of filters free. Molekule will retail for $800 and ship in early 2017.
Based on usage and the environment, the device automatically determines when filters need to be replaced. Filters will be automatically mailed to consumers on a subscription basis for $100 per year.
“Clean air is an absolute necessity to our health and well-being, and access to clean air is a basic human right,” said Goswami in a statement. “I have personally seen the impact clear air can have as I saw my son growing up with asthma and allergies and finally being able to feel some relief with the air purifier. I hope this technology brings this gift to every family and every home.”