Purify the air with a 3D printed metal filter
Each year, approximately seven million people around the world die prematurely from diseases caused by air pollution. According to WHO recommendations, the level of pollutants in the air must 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 made from 3D printed metal. CEO Gerald van Santen explains it in this episode of Startup of the Day.
How it works?
“Everyone knows about the catalytic converter in the internal combustion engines of cars, for example. It is designed to filter harmful exhaust gases. Polluted air passes through a simple structure that contains a catalyst material to which the pollutants react. Our filter works exactly the same way. But because we 3D print the structure of the catalyst, we can make much more complex systems through which the air passes. As a result, the polluted air takes a much longer path; we force harmful molecules into contact with the active catalyst material. This results in a better way of purifying the air. We are able to remove over 95% of harmful contaminants from the air this way. Our system is also more energy efficient. The metal structures guarantee a good level of heat conduction and heat regulation in the process.
What are you focusing on?
“Initially, we focused mainly on odor nuisance. But we have discovered that it is often a combination of gases. Thus, in addition to the odorous and harmful components, which fall under the so-called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC), we also include ammonia and methane. Initially, we focused on the slurry processing, biogas and livestock markets. Another market that interests us is the chemical industry, as well as asphalt processors, where many harmful substances are also emitted.
Where are you in this process?
“We tested many different prototypes of 3D printed structures. Because we work with, for example, K3D and AMPC Solutions (3D printing companies in Eindhoven), we can quickly create new versions of the internal structure of the filter. Being part of the TBRM group incubator in Geldrop has allowed us to evolve our technology very quickly. The finished prototype was built in-house and over the past year we have enlarged it approximately 1000 times. From 1 cubic meter to 1000 cubic meters of purified air per hour.
In the meantime, we have been technically assessed by an independent body, the Flemish Institute of Knowledge VITO. We have managed to achieve reduction rates of up to 98% here. With this data, we can show potential customers that our technology really works. »
How did you start?
“The idea originated at KMWE, a major supplier in the field of high-tech mechanical engineering. Through the CTO at the time and Professor Emeritus of Utrecht University. They can build anything at KMWE, but the chemistry side isn’t that strong. When Marc Evers left, he took over some inventory and a patent that had been discontinued since 2010. We started very small and actually gathered everything we needed. We have rented equipment or purchased parts from auction sites. Currently, 3D metal printing is still in the industrialization phase. We want to show that it is also possible to use this technique on a large scale.
When will you arrive at the market?
“With this validation, we are now developing a system capable of purifying up to 50,000 cubic meters of air per hour. We have also published a patent. This will allow us to recover 95% of the heat used by the system. This significantly reduces operational costs for customers. The module is now ready for the market. We want the first system to be fully operational with customers this year. »
What else can we expect from you?
“Right now, we are building our own prototypes. We try to develop our product at a lower cost. If we really want to increase production, we have to professionalize it. That is why we are now taking further steps in the engineering process. We plan the entire production and ensure that we are ready when the time comes. To this end, we benefit considerably from the knowledge and network of the various engineers within the TBRM incubator.
“In addition, we are currently working on a project with Wageningen University on research involving the removal of methane from the atmosphere.”