Scientists identify new method of controlling indoor air pollution by freezing pollutants

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Scientists have discovered that freezing harmful indoor pollutants could drastically improve the air quality in our homes and offices by 99%.

Experts showed polluted air can be transformed into clean air by circulating it through a cryogenic tube.

The study aimed to address the severe effect that hazardous outdoor air pollution.

It is thought to lead to more than 3 million premature deaths worldwide every year – was having on indoor air quality.

In cities with major air pollution, the outdoor air is often exchanged with indoor air via windows and other openings.

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The diagram shows polluted air being circulated through the cryogenic tube to around 18C, the particles clump together and fall to the bottom allowing clean air to pass through

The diagram shows polluted air being circulated through the cryogenic tube to around 18C, the particles clump together and fall to the bottom allowing clean air to pass through

The research, led by Nottingham Trent University’s Professor Gang Pan, involved studying the effectiveness of cryogenics for indoor air purification, by removing the gaseous pollutants and tiny particulates caused by haze. 

The team found that if they circulated haze pollutants are frozen to around -18C in the cryogenic condensing tube the particles clump together and fall to the bottom, allowing clean air to pass through the other side.  

Their method was able to remove 99% of particulates and 98% of nitrogen oxide pollutants. 

It is hoped that the work – which has a Chinese patent – could pave the way for simple modification of air conditioning and humidifier units so that they can have the option to clean polluted indoor air. 

While there are some existing technologies to purify indoor air, they can be inefficient, expensive or produce harmful by-products. 

In cities with major air pollution, the outdoor air is often exchanged with the indoor air via windows and other openings. When outdoor air quality is bad people stay indoors more, meaning they are still impacted

In cities with major air pollution, the outdoor air is often exchanged with the indoor air via windows and other openings. When outdoor air quality is bad people stay indoors more, meaning they are still impacted

In cities with major air pollution, the outdoor air is often exchanged with the indoor air via windows and other openings. When outdoor air quality is bad people stay indoors more, meaning they are still impacted

‘Hazardous outdoor air pollution has severely affected indoor air quality, threatening the health of billions of people,’ said Professor Robert Mortimer, a researcher on the study and Dean of the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences at Nottingham Trent University. 

WHAT IS CRYOGENICS? 

Cryogenics are the production and behaviours of materials at ver low temperatures.

Scientists assume a gas to be cryogenic if it can be liquefied at or below −150C (238F ).

The method is used around the world to collect and freeze biological matter from the animal and plant kingdoms as an insurance measure against endangerment or world catastrophe

Cryogenics are used to preserve the endangered corals’ eggs to prepare for their eventual demise

He said: ‘Outdoor air pollution in cities is a global problem, whether it be haze plaguing Beijing or poor air impacting the health of children in inner city London schools.  

‘When outdoor air quality is poor, people tend to spend even more time indoors – but outdoor pollution also leads to indoor pollution and people are still impacted.’ 

‘Professor Gang Pan added: ‘We have shown in our experiments that simply by circulating polluted air through a small freezing chamber we can remove most of fine particles and gas pollutants. 

‘Our study makes it possible to add an ‘air cleaner’ option to household appliances in areas which might experience extremely poor air conditions. 

By controlling indoor air pollution and improving air quality in this way, this work could be greatly beneficial for public health.’ 

The study is reported in the journal Science of the Total Environment. 



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