12 October 2020
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Every year, around seven million people around the world die prematurely from diseases caused by air pollution. According to the WHO’s recommendations, the level of pollutants in the air needs to be drastically reduced. AddCat, based in the Dutch town of Geldrop, has found a solution to this problem: a purification system with an air filter fabricated from 3D-printed metal. CEO Gerald van Santen explains it.
“Everyone is familiar with the catalytic converter in internal combustion engines of cars, for instance. It is designed to filter out harmful exhaust fumes. The polluted air passes through a simple structure that contains a catalyst material that the pollutants react to. Our filter works in exactly the same way. But because we 3D-print the structure of the catalyst, we can manufacture much more complex systems that air passes through. As a result, the polluted air takes a much longer path; we force harmful molecules to come into contact with the active catalyst material. This results in a better means of air purification. We are able to remove more than 95 percent of harmful contaminants from the air this way. Our system is also more energy-efficient. The metal structures ensure that there is a good level of thermal conduction and regulation of heat in the process.”
“The idea originated at KMWE, a large supplier in the field of high-tech mechanical engineering. Through the CTO at the time and a professor emeritus from Utrecht University. They can build anything at KMWE, but the chemistry side is not that strong. When Marc Evers left, he took over part of the inventory and a patent that had been shelved since 2010. We started out very modestly and actually scraped together everything that we needed. We rented gear or bought parts through auction sites. At present, 3D metal printing is still in the industrialization phase. We want to show that it is also possible to use this technique on a mass-production scale.”
“With this validation, we are now developing a system that can purify up to 50 thousand cubic meters of air per hour. We have also published a patent. This will allow us to recover 95 percent of the heat that the system uses. This significantly reduces operational costs for customers. The module is now ready for the market. We want to have the first system completely up and running with customers this year.”