LUX | A slick purifier and monitor combating in-car air pollution


Designer: Blake Parkinson

LUX is a car air purifier and on-the-go air monitor, that looks to combat in-car air pollution, a growing health concern around the world.

The aim is to provide a cleaner and healthier environment inside the vehicle, whilst educating and informing the user's about their exposure to air pollution whilst on-the-go. 

 

The air filtration technology within LUX is called Photocatalytic Oxidisation (PCO). Photocatalytic Oxidisation is a technique that was originally used in meat processing plants and fruit and vegetables industry to remove bacteria and pesticides. It isn’t implemented into any car purifiers on the market as it has only been recently introduced into consumer products.

 

LUX neatly fits into the cars cup holder and is powered by the 12V power supply using a USB-C power cables. 

 

The base of LUX is removable which allows the user to access the PCO module located inside the main body. The module needs to be removable as the catalytic mesh has a life of one year. The module is secured into the main body with a 1 pin DC magnetic power connector, which aids in removing and relocating the module after the mesh has been replaced.  The base utilises a 3 stop screw thread, resulting in minimal effort to remove it. 

  

The PCO module is made up of 3 main components, a UVC bulb, DC axial fan and a catalytic mesh. The catalytic mesh is coated with titanium dioxide (TiO2). The UVC bulb activates the catalyst on the mesh (TiO2).

This causes it to release free radicals, which attach themselves to the pollutants and break them down into their simplest form, carbon dioxide and water, but at such microscopic levels that they simply evaporate into the air. The outcome of this process is that pollutants within the air are removed, leaving a healthier and cleaner air environment. 


 
The secondary element of LUX is the removable air monitor. The air monitor allows the user to review the air quality around them whilst on foot. A fabric strap means the air monitor can be secured to a bag using a slip knot. The device can pair with the user's smartphone using Bluetooth.
 
 
The information gathered by the air monitor is then relayed to a dedicated app which monitors exposure and alerts the user when travelling through high areas of pollution. 
The device uses crowdsourced data resulting in the users becoming a cities pollution mapping tool.
 
This means someone could review the pollution levels across the entire city at one time. It also allows governments to review data to see where consistent high areas of pollution are and may help them to make informed choices about reducing pollution levels within cities.
 
 
Creating a minimal and clean design was the key goal for the air monitor. The device stayed away from using complex surface treatments to avoid visual cluttering. The only interaction of the device on the top surface.
 
A surface mounted switch underneath silicone insert has two functions. If the button is help for 3 seconds the device turns on. Whereas if the button is held for 5 seconds the Bluetooth functionality is activated for pairing to the user's smartphone.

 

what's the point?

The majority of people have no alternative other than to commute to work inside a vehicle and this result in them being exposed to unhealthy levels of pollution.  Research shows that pollution levels inside vehicles can be up to 15x worse than outside. When stuck at a red light or in a traffic jam, this can rise up to 40x worse. 
 
The health issues related to overexposure to Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Particulate Matter (PM2.5 and PM10) are alarming but yet there is minimal action being taken, within cities, to prevent this overexposure. 
 

the process...

Initial sketches were used to explore forms and interactive elements. The design was refined and evaluated with the users to get to the best all-around solution. 


 

Internals components were specified and integrated into a detailed CAD model. Additionally, a functional prototype was created that consisted of a Grove Dust sensor (PM2.5 and PM10), multi-channel gas sensor (Carbon Monoxide and Nitrogen Dioxide) and VOC sensor.

3D prints were created and component were outsourced for machining, with ultimate goal of creating a fully aesthetic prototype for testing. 


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