Zein Protein Aerogel as a new air filter system

Significance 

Air pollution is a major public health concern that affects people all around the world. Exposure to pollutants in the air has been linked to a range of health problems, including heart disease, respiratory problems, and even cancer. Air filtration is important for maintaining good indoor air quality and protecting human health. Poor indoor air quality can have negative effects on the respiratory system, causing asthma, allergies, and other respiratory problems. Indoor air quality is affected by a variety of factors, including outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution sources, and ventilation systems. Air filtration can help to remove pollutants and allergens from indoor air, improving the overall indoor air quality and reducing the risk of health problems.

Air filtration is especially important for people with respiratory problems, such as asthma or allergies. These individuals are particularly sensitive to indoor air pollution and may experience symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath when exposed to pollutants in the air. Air filtration can help to reduce their exposure to these pollutants and improve their respiratory health. Air filtration is also important for people who spend a lot of time indoors, such as children, the elderly, and individuals with certain medical conditions. These individuals may be more susceptible to the negative health effects of poor indoor air quality, and air filtration can help to protect them. In addition to protecting human health, air filtration is also important for protecting the environment. Indoor air pollution can contribute to outdoor air pollution, and outdoor air pollution can enter indoor spaces through ventilation systems. By removing pollutants from indoor air, air filtration can help to reduce the overall impact of air pollution on the environment.

While there are various air filters available on the market, they are not always effective at capturing all of the pollutants that are present in the air. Researchers at Washington State University have developed a new type of air filter made from corn protein that is capable of capturing both small particulates and toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde. This new technology has the potential to revolutionize the air filtration industry and improve air quality in regions where pollution is a major problem. The work is now published in the peer-reviewed Journal Separation and Purification Technology.

The research team chose to study corn protein because of its abundance. Additionally, the hydrophobic nature of corn protein means that it repels water and could work well in moist environments such as masks. The authors discovered that the amino acids in corn protein can trap toxic chemical molecules. The filter that the researchers developed is made up of micron-sized pores that are able to capture small particles. However, unlike traditional HEPA filters, this new filter is also capable of capturing gaseous molecules such as formaldehyde. The team found that their corn protein filter was able to capture 99.5% of small particulate matter, similar to commercial HEPA filters, and 87% of formaldehyde, which is higher than other specially designed air filters for these types of toxins.

One of the advantages of this new technology is that the filter is made from natural and renewable resources. Traditional HEPA filters are made from petroleum products and glass, which leads to secondary pollution when old filters are thrown away. By using corn protein fibers (Zein Protein Aerogel), the researchers have created an environmentally friendly alternative that can help to reduce the impact of air pollution on the environment.

The authors also developed a three-dimensional structure that offers more promise for a simple manufacturing method than thin films of proteins that the team had developed previously. They used a small amount of a chemical called polyvinyl alcohol to glue the nanofibers together into a lightweight foam-like material. This new technology has the potential to be used in a wide range of applications, from home air purifiers to masks and other personal protective equipment. The team believes that the new Zein Protein Aerogel technology will play a major role in improving people’s health and the environment should be commercialized.

The development of an air filter made from corn protein has the potential to be a significant breakthrough in the air filtration industry. By using natural and renewable resources, this new technology can help to reduce the impact of air pollution on the environment and improve public health. The filter’s ability to capture small particles and gaseous molecules such as formaldehyde makes it a promising tool for improving air quality in regions of the world that suffer from very poor air quality. Further research and development are in the way to fully realize the potential of the Zein Protein Aerogel technology, and there is a hope it will have to make a significant positive impact on the environment.

Zein Protein Aerogel as a new air filter system - Advances in Engineering

Reference

Shengnan Lin, Xuewei Fu, Ming Luo, Wei-Hong Zhong, protein aerogel with distinctive filtration capabilities for formaldehyde and particulate pollutants, Separation and Purification Technology, Volume 310, 2023, 123179,

Go To Separation and Purification Technology

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