Biodegradable Soy Air Filter Works Better than Standard Filters
An inexpensive, environment-friendly, biodegradable soy air filter was created by scientists at Washington State University, collaborating with the University of Science and Technology in Beijing, that can filter out gases, like carbon monoxide, that conventional air filters cannot. Poor air quality impacts the inhabitants of several industrialized cities worldwide, of which repeated exposure to toxins can lead to health issues, such as asthma, lung cancer, and heart disease.
The research teams developed the soy-based air filter using natural purified soy protein and bacterial cellulose (polysaccharide that give cell wall of plants and microbes their strength). Soy has 18 functional chemical groups that can be exploited to capture toxic air pollutants on a molecular scale. An acrylic acid treatment was used to expose, or unwind, the amino acid groups that enable the soy-based filter to trap both small particulate air matter and chemical pollutants that people living in severely polluted regions inhale on a regular basis.
Currently available air filters are made of plastic, and in some cases glass and petroleum, with micron-sized fibers that can filter small particles found in smoke, soot, and vehicle exhaust. However, gaseous air pollutants, like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, sulfur dioxide, and other organic volatile compounds (VOCs) escape typical filters—not to mention synthetic materials used to create standard air filters can also contribute to air pollution.
Cellulose used to engineer the soy air filters is a natural structure that’s already used in several biomedical applications, such as adhesives, wound dressings, plastics, and scaffolds for tissue regeneration, and is an inexpensive and earth-friendly material. Gelatin and cellulose-based filters have also been developed by the scientists, which are being applied to disposable paper towels to increase its strength and absorbency so less waste is created.
With the goal of maintaining a sustainable Earth, the researchers hope to improve the health and welfare of the public utilizing cheap, biodegradable materials to improve overall quality of life and balance out new emerging technology that may not be as green-friendly.