Finally, the First Innovation in Air Purification in 70 Years – Molekule Puts Real Air Purification Within Reach

Many people are becoming aware of the importance of fresh air in the home. Whether due to annual hassles like pollen or the grim increase of wildfires, it seems we can’t take for granted clean air. Molekule is a company that is delivering the first innovations in clean air technology in 70 years.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Jaya Rao, the company’s CEO. She saw the company being created over the last 25 years; her father was seeking an effective solution for his son’s asthma suffering. Jaya’s father is a distinguished solar energy scientist. Her parents put her brother through myriad therapies. As Jaya described it, “air purification should have been a solution, but innovation was stalled. The available technology has been HEPA. That science is from the Manhattan Project in 1940s. It was innovative then, but we have had very little innovation since then. The goal my father had was air purification, to not just filter but eradicate. He wanted to eliminate the virus, the mold and not just the larger particulates.”

She went on to describe Molekule’s unique selling proposition – using light and a chemical process to destroy pollutants.

Molekule breaks down pollutants at the molecular level, destroying toxins like mold, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), allergens, viruses, dander and bacteria—destroying them from the indoor air that passes through the device. Molekule’s proprietary technology is called PECO (Photo Electrochemical Oxidation). The PECO filter is coated in a proprietary media that, when activated by light, creates a chemical reaction on the surface of the filter, destroying pollutants by breaking down their molecular structure.

In 2017 the company introduced its first product after 20 years of experimentation, now Molekule offers a range of four consumer devices.

Jaya also discussed the medical-grade unit the company has launched, as indicative of the company’s devotion to the ultimate goal of providing clean air everywhere. “Surface disinfection is something about which medical facilities are strong, but what about the air?” Jaya asked rhetorically. “Hence, it was a logic step for us. How we could meet the most critical certification, so we pursued and attained the stringent FDA certification.”

She and I also discussed the innovative design of the Molekule devices. The devices are not just another black plastic box, but they clearly evince a great design aesthetic. The devices definitely passed my wife’s strict requirements about me bringing in another item for the house. “What would I want in the home, something both beautiful in design but functional.” Jaya explained that the 360° air intake will allow the device to still work next to a wall, and the vegan leather handle aids in portability. The power cable management on the bottom is a further thoughtful element. Molekule has certainly spent time on both the inside and the outside of their products.

As with most technology today, the Molekule products are paired with an app. There are a variety of settings, but I like the set-it-and-forget-it mode, which the company calls its “Air Protect Mode.”

The proprietary PECO technology coats a special catalyst on the replaceable filters, which are presently only sold by Molekule. Jaya does not rule out licensing the technology, but with the constant updating of the technology consumers will benefit from the ongoing improvements.

I always ask about distribution strategy, and Jaya explained that “Molekule started direct to consumer, now we are looking at expanding our retail footprint. Best Buy and Apple are the beginning of the journey.” Hospitals and restaurants are logical business targets.

“Amazon is an investor,” she mentioned.

In closing, I could not help but ask about the topic on everyone’s mind these days. “As to Covid,” Jaya stated, “We can destroy viruses and have tested on MS2 bacteriophage, a proxy virus to SARS-CoV-2, but we have not tested on COVID.”

I have been feeling great about having my Molekule units in the house.

Much of the science behind Molekule’s products are explained here.

 

 


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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