Cigarette smoke cleaned up by nano-catalyst filter

A new air-cleaning filter device can get rid of all the harmful smoke substances in an enclosed space, where ten people are simultaneously smoking, within an hour, researchers say.

A group of researchers from Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) have developed a nano-catalyst filter, which can be used in a smoking room to reduce and purify the harmful substances found in cigarette smoke.

The team said the filter removes 100 per cent of the particle substances of smoke such as nicotine and tar, converting the two into water vapour and carbon dioxide, and can clean over 80 per cent of the smoke within 30 minutes in a 30 square-metre room. During the trial, ten people were smoking at the same time.

Traditionally, charcoal-based filters have been mostly used in smoking rooms to remove gaseous materials in cigarette smoke. However, such filters are not effective in removing substances such as acetaldehyde, as their absorption ability decreases in an enclosed space. They also typically need to be replaced on a bi-weekly basis.

The team coated a manganese oxide-based nano-catalyst powder onto a ceramic-based filter media, which uses a technology that decomposes elements of cigarette smoke using oxygen radicals. The prototype, an air-cleaning device fitted with the filter, was tested in contact with acetaldehyde, nicotine and tar to evaluate its performance. The device decomposed over 98 per cent of the harmful substances.

Scientists hope to commercialise the device in about a year. Jongsoo Jurng, lead researcher, said: “The air-cleaning equipment processes and removes substances in cigarette smoke that are not easily removed with the existing air technologies.

“If the new equipment can be simplified and is economically feasible, it will be an important tool for keeping smoking rooms pleasant and clean,” he said.

Jurng added: “Also, from the convergence perspective, the new nanometre catalyst filter can be integrated with other air-cleaning products, such as air purifiers and air conditioners.”

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