Cars cleaning the air: An outlandish idea?

A while ago I reported on testing on school buses in the Los Angeles region a concept known as HECA or High-Efficiency Cabin Air filtration. Filtering units were placed inside designated L.A. region school bus interiors, done expressly for the purpose of determining device effectiveness as it has to do with its abilility to remove emissions from said bus cabins. Findings of the tests were indeed encouraging.

Relatedly, an effort was launched in the same region, calling for the installation of air filters in some near-freeway located residences, their intended purpose to remove fine particulates, those, presumably, coming from vehicles traversing these thoroughfares located in close proximity to said dwellings and eventually, ultimately finding their way inside. In my opinion, both efforts are particularly noteworthy, and ones holding promise most definitely!

If you think that’s something, get a load of this: There is now available technology that makes it possible for cars, you heard right, for cars to clean the air. Welcome to the world of transportation-deployed, air cleaning. All things considered, the notion is not all that far-fetched.

Field entries

Okay, so it would only be a matter of time before someone came up with an idea and design for a car to help clean the air around and through which the car is being driven. And, so far, targeted emissions to be pulled from the air appear to be oxides of nitrogen (NOx), particulate matter (PM) and, of course, carbon dioxide (CO2).

Already having gotten involved in the endeavor are entities like Heatherwick Studios, an English company in partnership with a firm based in China. Their entry goes by the name Airo. Its release, as I understand it, is slated for 2023. It will be both electric-powered and autonomous, but will maintain the ability to be driver-operated.

As for the air-cleaning unit, it is to be HEPA-based. Such are effective when it comes to removing airborne particles.

Another concern getting in on the act is Eindhoven University of Technology located in the Netherlands, its contribution known as the “Zem” for Zero Emission Mobility, the targeted pollutant to be removed in this particular instance being CO2. There are others as well, that have entered this space.

No big deal

There is really nothing extraordinary about cleaning the air around or in the orbit in which one drives. In fact, people as observers paying close attention should have expected this, though I will admit, too little press has been dedicated to covering this technological capability. Truth be told, I had a somewhat difficult time trying to find information online about this.


I could actually see the day when said devices become standard equipment on all new cars operating domestically. Need a comparison? Think catalytic converters made mandatory, what, in the 1970s?

I could definitely envision all new cars coming outfitted with this technology. It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility – that’s for sure.

Of course, the filters would need periodic replacing, the filters themselves needing disposing of properly. It’s little different than today’s air-filter system already in place in the automotive realm, really, the primary difference being what the filter is capturing. The system I’m alluding to may be a little more sophisticated, and, honestly, I do not see why one couldn’t replace the other in time, all in the name of making air quality better. Personally, I think it’s a no-brainer.

– Alan Kandel

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