Research Foundation News

June 25, 2019

Interior wall brings breath of fresh air to home of the future


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – More than 3.8 million deaths worldwide each year are blamed on household air pollution, and scientists are turning to many strategies to try to clean the air in homes and business, including the use of everyday plants.

A Purdue University project called the Biowall is showing promise at using a wall of plants to clear the air within businesses and homes. A video about the Biowall project is available at https://youtu.be/T2c1AFcikUQ.

“The Biowall is an eco-friendly air filtration system that can be used in residential buildings to improve air quality,” said Bill Hutzel, a professor of mechanical engineering technology in Purdue’s Polytechnic Institute, who leads the research team. “We combine Purdue expertise in building design, engineering and agriculture to help with the home of the future.”

Hutzel biowall Bill Hutzel, a professor of mechanical engineering technology, and Danielle LeClerc, an undergraduate student who works on the Biowall team, are inspecting the plants used for the project. (Purdue Research Foundation image/Hope Sale) Download image

This system uses plants grown in a loosely packed growth media, allowing air to pass through the media. The plant's roots absorb volatile organic compounds from the passing air, removing these compounds from circulation. The system is integrated into the return duct of a HVAC unit, so the biowall can affect the air quality for the entire home.

“I come from the design side where we know that energy efficient homes are very well insulated, but they also trap and accumulate volatile organic compounds like toluene,” Hutzel said.

In 2014, Whirlpool Corp., along with Purdue, transformed an existing home near Purdue’s campus into a research laboratory and sustainable living showcase called the ReNEWW house. Purdue researchers installed the Biowall in the ReNEWW house to monitor the performance of the biofilter, the health of the plants present and comfort of residents.

biowall house Purdue University researchers installed the Biowall in the ReNEWW house to monitor the performance of the biofilter, the health of the plants present and comfort of residents. (Purdue Research Foundation image/Hope Sale) Download image

“I work with data from NASA and other research organizations to figure out which plants are likely to perform the best in keeping the air clean inside the home,” said Danielle LeClerc, an undergraduate student who works on the Biowall team. “It is interesting to incorporate data from a space agency like NASA into the everyday home of the future.”

Hutzel and his team have worked with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization on patenting the technology.

The work aligns with Purdue's Giant Leaps celebration of the university’s global advancements made in sustainability as part of Purdue’s 150th anniversary.  It is one of the four themes of the yearlong celebration’s Ideas Festival, designed to showcase Purdue as an intellectual center solving real-world issues.

About Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization           

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities through commercializing, licensing and protecting Purdue intellectual property. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Innovation from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at otcip@prf.org. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org.The Purdue Research Foundation is a private, nonprofit foundation created to advance the mission of Purdue University.   

Note to Journalists: Additional video clips and interviews are available at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qne1jsykdxp2w90/AACFdTMn_2Oa3f7Sl-HPc2poa?dl=0.

Writer: Chris Adam, 765-588-3341, cladam@prf.org 

Source:
Bill Hutzel, hutzelw@purdue.edu


Research Foundation News

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-19 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at purduenews@purdue.edu.