The head-mounted air purifier | Pics: Aerion Labs
Air pollution continues to be a major problem in India. According to an EPIC study, Indians could see a nine-year decrease in their life expectancy due to pollution. India was ranked third on the list for air quality in 2020. What if Indians could have a personal air purifier at their doorstep? This is exactly what Coimbatore-headquartered Aerion Labs has developed.
Speaking about how it works, Aerion’s founder Mukund Rajukumar says, “We wanted to make it affordable to the common Indian and therefore, we haven’t used expensive filters like HEPA that is conventionally used in air purifiers. Instead, have used the electrostatic precipitation technology, which is recyclable and doesn’t have heavy operation costs.” Besides Mukund, who is based out of San Francisco, the entire team is in Coimbatore and Dindigul. “We are manufacturing and assembling the products there,” Mukund also added. They will soon start trial production.
Mukund says that the technology that they have used isn’t new. “It has been used in cement factories for decades. Our innovation has been to miniaturise it into a head-mounted device. The device has a dust collection panel that can be taken out and cleaned,” says Mukund. The fan on the right side of Mukund draws in the polluted air. The air passes through several cartridges, and the clean air is directed to the wearer’s nose. “The entire process happens in the enclosure that’s located on the forehead. The rest of the device is a transparent visor,” says Mukund.
Mukund’s team is experimenting with different strapping techniques to ensure that users feel comfortable. “It is already lightweight and has a low battery capacity. We are striving to reduce the weight further,” says Mukund. This is the basic version. Aerion is currently working on a version that targets children who are returning to school. “It’s a much lighter version where a mask can be placed inside a filter chamber mounted on the forehead. The air gets filtered through the mask and the students don’t have to struggle to breathe while actually wearing it all the time while at school,” explains Mukund.
A helmet-mounted version of the device, which will incorporate the air purifier, is also in development. “We are reaching out to two-wheeler Electric Vehicles (EV) manufacturers to partner with them for bringing out this variant,” says Mukund. “Ideally, we would like it to be part of a bundle that can be purchased along with the e-bike,” Mukund adds. Aerion Labs was founded two years ago and has been largely self-funded. It was only recently that Aerion Labs received $100K seed funding, which enabled it to move into trial production.