Trends in Air Purification & Sensing using Advanced & Nano-sized Materials

December 2018 | Vol 1, No. 3


Air quality is a major concern in large cities across the world due to rapid urbanization and industrialization.1,2 The pollutants that contribute to poor air quality include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are carbon-based chemicals that evaporate easily at room temperature.
The most prevalent VOCs include alcohols, aldehydes, alkanes, aromatics, ethers, halogenated compounds, olefins, ketones, and sulfur containing compounds. VOC exposure impacts human health with high concentrations leading to dizziness, headaches, irritation, nausea, and potential exposure to carcinogens. They have also impacted the environment and have been identified as being responsible for stratospheric ozone depletion, tropospheric ozone formation, ground level smog formation, climate change, and atmosphere toxicity.2

A variety of industries, processes, and materials release VOCs, but sources of indoor VOCs have been gaining attention because people are spending an increased amount of time indoors (around 80-90%).1 In some instances indoor air may be more polluted than outdoor air, and the World Health Organization has indicated that VOCs are the most significant pollutants of indoor air.1,3
In commonly used spaces such as offices, schools, homes, airports, and hospitals, VOC release can come from paint, cleaning products, furniture, construction materials, and appliances. As a result, new air purification and sensor technologies are turning to nanomaterials to improve air quality and to meet regulatory requirements.1
Nanomaterials have a marked potential to positively impact the environment and human health through improved detection of pollution and removing pollution from air at a much-reduced cost compared to current technologies. The small size and large surface area of such materials afford them more efficacy in filtration than larger sized particles.
The challenges in realizing this benefit are high price, scalability difficulties, and achieving uniform size distribution.1 Certain nanomaterials used to reduce VOCs in air are catalytic, and convert VOCs to carbon dioxide and water. Catalytic oxidation is an effective process that allows for the oxidation of VOCs at a much lower temperature than other processes. An important consideration, and what has proven to be a challenge, is selecting the most ideal catalyst despite the large amount that are available.2
The industrial air filtration market is valued at roughly $14 billion per year, with the potential addressable market for nanomaterials >$2.5 billion.1 Air filters utilizing this technology are being developed and commercialized, and there is also increased interest in inventing novel air purifiers, as patent applications for air purifiers incorporating nanomaterials have more than quadrupled over the past decade.
This non-confidential report details the nanomaterials that are on the brink of revolutionizing the air filtration market based on our extensive market research and voice-of-customer interviews with industry professionals.
Interested in learning more? Provide us with your email address and we will send you a copy of the full report.
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[1] The Global Market For Nanotechnology And Nanomaterials, 2010-2027. 3 ed., Future Markets, 2017, pp. 734–744.
[2] Kamal, M. et al. Catalytic oxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – A review. Atmospheric Environment. 140, 117-134 (2016).
[3] Szulczynski, B. & Gebicki, J. Currently Commercially Available Chemical Sensors Employed for Detection of Volatile Organic Compounds in Outdoor and Indoor Air. Environments. 4, 1– 15 (2017).
[4] Aboukaïs, A. et al. A comparative study of Cu, Ag and Au doped CeO2 in the total oxidation of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Materials Chemistry and Physics. 177, 570 − 576 (2016).
[5] Khalilzadeh, A. & Fatemi, S. Spouted bed reactor for VOC removal by modified nano-TiO2 photocatalytic particles. Chemical Engineering Research and Design. 115, 241– 250 (2016).
[6] Zhang, L. et al. Heterostructured TiO2/WO3 Nanocomposites for Photocatalytic Degradation of Toluene under Visible Light. Journal of The Electrochemical Society. 164, H1086-H1090 (2017).
[7] Zhang, W. et al. Photocatalytic degradation of formaldehyde by nanostructured TiO2 composite films. Journal of Experimental Nanoscience. 11, 185-196 (2016).
[8] Le, T. et al. Air purification equipment combining a filter coated by silver nanoparticles with a nano-TiO2 photocatalyst for use in hospitals. Advances in Natural Sciences: Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. 6, 1-8 (2015).
[9] Zhong, Z. et al. Unusual Air Filters with Ultrahigh Efficiency and Antibacterial Functionality Enabled by ZnO Nanorods. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces. 7, 21538−21544 (2015).
[10] Joost, U. et al. Colorimetric gas detection by the varying thickness of a thin film of ultrasmall PTSA-coated TiO2 nanoparticles on a Si substrate. Beilstein J. Nanotechnol. 8, 229–236 (2017).
[11] Qu, X. et al. Hierarchical ZnO microstructures decorated with Au nanoparticles for enhanced gas sensing and photocatalytic properties. Powder Technology. 330, 259–265 (2018).