The worsening air quality in Chinese cities has long been a hot topic among people. This has meant that residents need to go in for expensive air filtration equipment for their homes. But now, a creative idea from a group of foreigners in Shanghai means air filters don’t need to be expensive anymore.
A simple, cheap and effective way to make an air cleaner. A group of American expats living in Shanghai have come up with a simple, yet cost-effective way to make air purifiers out of commonly available household items. All that people need to make this DIY air filter is a cheap electric fan, a standard High Efficiency Particulate Air filter and a strap. And the result, an air purifier that costs just 200 yuan or about $32.
"This is like a bicycle, and an IQ Air or a Blueair is like a BMW. And until now, in the air purifier market, people didn’t know that bicycles existed. They thought that if you want to get from here to here, you had to buy a BMW. So what we’re saying is not that this is as good as an IQ Air, but that this works, and it works very well, and it’s much, much cheaper." Smart air filters collaborator Gus Tate said.
PhD student Thomas Talhelm came up with the idea when studying in China. Late last year, the team started selling their DIY packages. Tate placed an air quality monitor in front of the filter, and showed how a measure of particulate matter dropped from 600 to 0 in a matter of seconds.
"It produces comparable results when you talk about particulates. So it doesn’t get some of the other things that other purifiers get like smells or some other chemicals. This doesn’t do anything for that. So we are only talking about particulates. But given enough time, in a closed room, yes, pretty much the same results." Smart air filters collaborator Gus Tate said.
Liang Zhuoyao, who has put up with worsening air quality in Shanghai during his 10 years there, is convinced.
"They’re very creative. They have found an easy way that people can accept. I think the price is the key point. It’s so cheap. It attracts normal people like me to come and listen, and then buy it." Liang said.
The toxic air pollution that regularly plagues China’s big cities has led many to invest in expensive air purifiers. Most cost upwards of around 2,000 yuan, equalling around $300, putting them out of reach of those on a budget. Luckily, it won’t be a problem now.