Groundbreaking air-cleaner saves polluting industrials

December 28, 2012
This is a picture of the researcher and inventor of new air cleaning technology. Mathew Johnsson from the University of Copenhagen. Credit: University of Copenhagen

Industries across Europe are threatened with shutdown as European Union emission rules for Volatile Organic Compounds are tightened. Now an air cleaning invention from the University of Copenhagen has proven its ability to remove these compounds. And in the process they have helped a business in Danish town Aarhus improve relations to angry neighbors.

Inventor, Copenhagen chemist Matthew Johnson, presented evidence for the air cleaning at the conference "First International Education Forum on Environment and Energy Science" held on Hawaii December 14 to 18.

In deepest secrecy the inventor Matthew Johnson from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen has been collaborating with an investor, INFUSER, in mounting and testing a revolutionary air cleaning device at the industrial plant, "Jysk Miljoerens" in Danish town Aarhus. The reason for keeping the testing secret was that they wanted to be absolutely sure that they could in fact remove the pollution before going public. Now their measurements are concluded and the results are in. And the device actually works.

Natural way to remove air pollution

At the department of Chemistry atmospheric chemist Matthew Johnson invented and patented the air cleaning method which is based on the natural ability of the to clean itself. In a process triggered by sunlight, polluting gasses rising into the sky start forming particles when they come across naturally occurring compounds such as ozone. The newly formed are washed out of the atmosphere by rain. Once the rain hits the ground, the atmosphere is clean again. In other words the whole process is nature's own purifications works, explains Professor Johnson.

"I have investigated the self-cleaning mechanism of the atmosphere for years. Suddenly I realized, that the mechanism is so simple, that we could wrap it in a box and use it to clean indoor air. This makes for a better indoor climate, and in this particular case it also removes smells from this industrial process allowing the company to stay in business and making the neighbours happy," says Matthew Johnson.

Frutifull collaboration between business and research

For the INFUSER CEO Lars Nannerup the new air cleaning method was a heavensent. For some time he had wanted to establish a cleantech business delivering green and sustainable solutions to industry.

-For INFUSER, collaborating with the University of Copenhagen has been extremely fruitful. We have been operating in an electrifying field between fundamental research and commercial development. This is an area where pure theory and good ideas are tested outside the very competent walls of the university. And we have been extraordinarily successful. We are excited to be able to bring to market this revolutionary technology. We are proud that it is a Danish invention, and we're proud that this invention helps making the world a better and a cleaner place," says Nannerup.

Low energy consumption allows climate friendly air treatment

In scientific terms, Matthew Johnsons patented process is known as an atmospheric photochemical accelerator. The whole process is housed in five aluminium boxes on the roof of the Aarhus business. Compared to traditional methods the new process outshines by removing pollution rather than diluting it, as is the case when we send smoke up a chimney. The method requires no filters, so maintenance is inexpensive. It consumes very little energy, so its climate impact is negligible. Finally it removes the need for a chimney which would have been costly to erect. For all these reason INFUSER and the photochemical air-purification was the right choice for Jysk Miljoerens.

Photochemistry solved pressing problem for environmental business

The company Jysk Miljoerens makes a living separating oil from bilge water in ships, so that the oil may be recycled. For manager Bent Naldal all the parameters were important, but above all he is just happy that the new method has managed to remove the smells from his wastewater treatment plant. Because the smells were threatening to put him out of business.

"It's no big secret, that we've faced challenges in getting rid of the smells originating in our treatment plant. For this reason we were very happy when INFUSER got in touch, saying that they had a solution to our problem. Unlike other solutions that we've investigated to combat smells and we can now see, that INFUSER delivered. They've solved a pressing problem for Jysk Miloerens, and for the city of Aarhus," says CEO Naldal.

Perfect example of collaboration between industry and academia

For the University of Copenhagen it has been an especial pleasure to follow the collaboration between and investor. The university unit for technology transfer has helped Johnson in the patenting process, in getting financing to conduct experiments and in drawing up the licensing agreement with INFUSER. Unit leader Anna Haldrup feels that the air cleaning technology is a perfect example of how universities can help industrial partners.

Explore further: New invention saves energy, health, climate

Related Stories

New invention saves energy, health, climate

September 29, 2010

A new Danish invention could cut energy use in buildings by 25 percent by creating a better indoor climate. The "CleanAir" invention was recently patented by a researcher in atmospheric chemistry at the University of Copenhagen. ...

Catalyser for clean rainforest air

March 1, 2012

( -- The atmosphere’s robust capacity to clean itself is owed to the consistent recycling of its cleaning agent. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz have now clarified exactly ...

UM invention helps advance reliability of alternative energy

April 16, 2012

A University of Minnesota invention could help make storage of solar and wind energy more efficient and economical. The invention was licensed to SustainX, a leading global developer of grid-scale energy storage solutions ...

Chemists examine solar energy and air purification

July 22, 2011

The abundant sunlight is no doubt making beachgoers happy this summer, but those working on their tans aren't the only beneficiaries. The sun's rays are also a key ingredient to going green.

"Green walls" against air pollution

September 4, 2012

(—Planting vegetation along streets in the city might reduce air pollution better than assumed so far, that is by up to 30 percent instead of one to two percent. This finding was made by Dr. Thomas Pugh, now working ...

Recommended for you

A super-algae to save our seas

July 20, 2017

Coral reefs are our most diverse marine habitat. They provide over US$30 billion to the world economy every year and directly support over 500 million people. However, they are vulnerable with climate change impact models ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 28, 2012
Another win for green technology and human innovation.
not rated yet Dec 28, 2012
I did not see where the product may be acquired. Certainly the USA needs this sort of device in many places.
4 / 5 (1) Dec 28, 2012
This article reads like an advert.
1.1 / 5 (7) Dec 28, 2012
There is web: The air purification unit has a volume of 50 cubic meters. The installation is 10 meters long, the total weight of the installation is under 5 tons.. Total hydrocarbon pollution reduced by 50%. It's not way too much. It's probably UV lamp enclosed with aluminum box and it consumes huge amount of electricity. And it apparently causes a structural damage of buildings, being groundbreaking...
1 / 5 (2) Dec 29, 2012
ValeriaT It's probably UV lamp enclosed with aluminum box and it consumes huge amount of electricity. And it apparently causes a structural damage of buildings, being groundbreaking...

Prove it.

Under "Low energy consumption allows climate friendly air treatment", the article states "The method requires no filters, so maintenance is inexpensive. It consumes very little energy, so its climate impact is negligible."
1 / 5 (8) Dec 29, 2012
A photo on the website shows fluorescent tube UV light source in one of the sidebars. The bulbs probably consume less than 30W each if they are T-8 or T-5. Figure the thing uses as much power as your average tanning bed in total.
1 / 5 (6) Dec 31, 2012
Ingenious . If this thing actually works it will do wonders to fight pollution , soot etc. The kind of pollution that really needs to be stopped.

But make no mistake , this device is going to do ZILCH with regards to big bad old CO2 , the evil gas thats spreading warming around the globe.
1 / 5 (7) Jan 24, 2013
"Once the rain hits the ground, the atmosphere is clean again. In other words the whole process is nature's own purifications works, explains Professor Johnson."

I understand from this analogy that they gather the pollutants with water, but what do those pollutants become? They can't miraculously disappear, can they? The rains this scientist mentions do pollute the ground, don't they? Calling this "purification" looks like greenwashing to me.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.