Airtomo Air Purification System

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Our battle with air pollution is not just above ground, it is also under; pollution on underground transportation, e.g. London Underground (LU), can be 20 times* higher than roadside air. The primary pollutants are particulate matter (PM) 2.5 and 10, which are many times smaller than a strand of hair. They are hence tiny enough to enter our body to cause damage. Damage equivalent to smoking a cigarette^ if you spend just 20 minutes underground.

Iron oxides form majority of the pollutants and are typically produced from the interaction between train wheels and tracks. PM concentrations are affected by particle resuspension a phenomenon where PM at rest are disturbed and recirculate back into the air. This is due to trains and the train tunnel piston effect, as well as people’s movement.

Inspired by how Nature uses rain to clean the air, Airtomo wearables and modules release dry, atomised water vapour to remove pollutants¹ through a process called aggregation. Water droplets bind harmful particles to form large, heavy aggregates which fall to the ground, thus removing PM from the air. They no longer resuspend, even after water has evaporated, and can subsequently be removed with a mop or broom.

Airtomo proposes a decentralised, dynamic way to purify air. The infrastructure modules leverage on the train tunnel piston effect to push vapour into station platforms to clean the air and directly tackles resuspension at the source when it is installed along passage ways, intersections, entrances or exits. Airtomo wearables offer individuals a personal vapour cloud that actively cleans the air one breathes or reduces resuspension induced by foot motion. In addition, Airtomo consumes nominal resources². Most importantly, the process is visually tangible, thus motivating adoption.

*Financial Times, 2019.
^British Lung Foundation, 2003.
¹A single atomiser cleans 167 litres of polluted air in a minute.
²A single atomiser consumes 23ml of water per hour and utilises 1.5W of power. Airtomo wearables house between 30 to 50ml of water. This capacity is based on the average travel duration taken by LU commuters – 1 hour.


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  • Name:
    Kevin Chiam
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    Design can be perceived as an open conversation not just between people, but also our environment. Hence, common sense, driven by logic, sensitivity and empathy, is crucial and often a cornerstone for a fruitful dialogue.
    Though trained as an industrial designer, I am essentially a curious explorer at heart. Hence, he observes, question and tinker with the rituals we perform - from mundane tasks to the culturally exotic. This inquisitive nature has led me to pursue a double master’s programme in Innovation Design Engineering at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London.
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