Students From India Develop Plant-Based Air Purifier

In a development that may help in addressing the issue of indoor air purification amid the ongoing pandemic, an Indian startup has developed the world’s first ‘Plant based’ smart air-purifier “Ubreathe Life” that uses breathing plants for the filtration of contaminants. Young scientists at the Indian Institutes of Technology, Ropar and Kanpur and Faculty of Management Studies of Delhi University have developed the living-plant based air purifier “Ubreathe Life” that amplifies the air purification process in the indoor spaces. “These indoor spaces can either be hospitals, schools, offices and your homes,” says a scientist.

The IIT Ropar’s startup company, ‘Urban Air Laboratory’ claims the air purifier to be the world’s first, state-of-the-art ‘Smart Bio-Filter’ that can make breathing fresh. It has been incubated at IIT Ropar, which is a designated iHub – AWaDH (Agriculture and Water Technology Development Hub) by the Department of Science and Technology. A World Health Organization (WHO) report points out that indoor air spaces are five times more polluted than outdoor air spaces. That is a cause of concern, especially in the present Covid pandemic times. Research, recently published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), calls upon the governments to alter building designs by fixing air changes per hour (a measure of room ventilation with outdoor air). The ‘Ubreathe Life’ can be a solution to this concern.

Sanjay Maurya, CEO, Ubreathe claims, “The product has certain biophilic benefits, such as supporting cognitive function, physical health, and psychological well-being. Thus, it’s like having a bit of Amazon forest in your room. The consumer need not water the plant regularly as there is a built-in water reservoir with a capacity of 150ml which acts as a buffer for plant requirements,” he explained. He further said that the device supplies water to the roots whenever it gets too dry. Explaining the working of the device Maurya further said, “‘Ubreathe Life’ effectively improves indoor air quality by removing particulate, gaseous and biological contaminants while increasing the oxygen levels in the indoor space through specific plants, UV disinfection and a stack of Pre-filter, Charcoal filter and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter fitted in a specially designed wooden box. There is a centrifugal fan that creates a suction pressure inside the purifier, and releases purified air, formed at the roots, through the outlet in a 360degree direction. The specific plants tested for air-purification include Peace Lily, Snake Plant, Spider plant etc. and all have given good results in purifying indoor air.”

The product has already been tested. Scientists said that ‘Ubreathe Life’ can be a game-changer for maintaining clean air indoors. They argued that the new research had suggested that Covid-19 vaccination by itself may not guarantee safety at workplaces, schools and even closed fully air-conditioned homes unless air filtration, air purification and indoor ventilation becomes part of the building design. “The results of testing, conducted by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories and the Laboratory of IIT Ropar maintains that the AQI (Air Quality Index) for a room size of 150sqft drops from 311 to 39 in 15 minutes after using ‘Ubreathe Life,” Director, IIT, Ropar, Professor Rajeev Ahuja said.

Dr Vinay and Dr Deepesh Agarwal from AIIMS, New Delhi said that the ‘Ubreathe Life’ infuses oxygen in the room making it conducive to patients with breathing issues, a department of science note said. Budding Indian scientists have developed a living plant-based air purifier named ‘Ubreathe Life’, which amplifies the air purification process in indoor spaces. These indoor spaces can be hospitals, schools, offices or even people’s homes. The state-of-the-art ‘Smart Bio-Filter’ can make breathing fresh, claimed Urban Air Laboratory, a startup incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Ropar. The budding scientists are from IIT Ropar, IIT Kanpur and the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University.

“The technology works through the air-purifying natural leafy plant. The room air interacts with leaves and goes to the soil-root zone where maximum pollutants are purified. The novel technology used in this product is ‘Urban Munnar Effect’ along with patent-pending ‘Breathing Roots’ to exponentially amplify the phyto-remediation process of the plants. Phyto-remediation is a process by which plants effectively remove pollutants from the air,” said a release from the Ministry of Science and Technology. ‘Ubreathe Life’ effectively improves indoor air quality by removing particulate, gaseous and biological contaminants. It also increases the indoor space’s oxygen levels through specific plants, UV disinfection, and a stack of pre-filter, charcoal filter and HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter fitted in a specially designed wooden box.

A centrifugal fan creates a suction pressure inside the purifier and releases purified air, formed at the roots, through the outlet in a 360-degree direction. The specific plants tested for air purification include peace lily, snake plant, spider plant etc., and all have given good results in purifying indoor air quality, the release added.

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