Global Product Design is a program sponsored by 4 top universities( Tsinghua University, Seoul National University, Hong Kong Science and Tech University and Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics) in Asia. In half a year, a group of students from Seoul, Hong Kong and Beijing worked together to design a product which solves a shared problem.

Our group consisted of four students. During the project, we held an offline workshop in Beijing in August 2017, one in Hong Kong in October and a final presentation in Seoul. We also held online meetings twice a week for project discussing and progress reporting. I was mainly responsible for mechanical design and making an electronic prototype.

After half years’ effort, we managed to make a prototype of an algae-based air purifier hoping to reduce secondary pollution caused by used filter mesh of traditional air purifiers.

Background and Investigation

As excessive energy consumption brings about the problem of air pollution, air purifier is gradually becoming a must-have electrical appliance in East Asia. The basic working principle is to use filter mesh to filter small particles in the air. However, the filter meshes are one-off which need to be changed regularly. Filter meshes are made of non-degradable polymers, the treatment of which cause secondary pollution.

Algae, as a kind of plant with tiny size but tenacious vitality, has great ability in absorbing small particles and harmful gases because of its extremely large surface area. Thus, we came up with the idea of building a algae-based air purifier.

According to relative botany research papers, we made a simple estimation which implied that the particle-absorbing ability of 10 kilos of algae was equivalent to a small air purifier. The result supported our assumption.

Product Concept

An algae-based air purifier is an air purifier completely free of pollution. Not only can it be used for removing floating particles in the air, photosynthesis of algae also provides fresh oxygen.

Industrial Design

The algae-based air purifier was designed to be a modular one. The bottom part was a box with batteries and a motor inside. The motor drew air into the middle part for air purification. Inside the middle boxes were algae grown in jelly-shaped culture medium. Outside air flew in through pipes and were purified here. At the top of the purifier were a intelligent user interface built with an Arduino UNO board and a screen.

Electronic Prototyping

The user interface was controlled by an Arduino UNO board. A touching screen was installed for basic control over the wind power of the motor. In addition, we used a PM 2.5 and a PM 10 sensor to monitor current air quality. Users can get real-time air quality through the screen as well.