Filter + Fan = IAQ Revolution

Thomas Talhelm, the founder of Smart Air, joins Bryan on the podcast to talk about how a filter and a fan in China sparked an IAQ revolution. The simple device changed his thinking about air purification.

As a graduate student in China, Thomas witnessed the Beijing “Air-pocalypse” firsthand. That was when he became aware of the issue of air pollution and the potential health issues it can cause. So, he dove into the world of air purification. The most popular air purifier on the market was about $1,000, but Thomas felt that the price tag was way too high for protecting human health.

Instead, Thomas decided to make his own air purifier with just a filter and a fan. He bought a laser particle counter to test his DIY air purifier and began publishing his data to make his health and safety data accessible and make cleaner air available to everyone. So, the goal of Smart Air is to lead an IAQ revolution by educating others about air pollution, sharing data about IAQ products, and improving health. The goal is NOT to earn lots of money.

Thomas also uses his own experiments and data to answer tough but practical questions. For example, he has done studies to discover if indoor or outdoor air is cleaner. (Of course, the answer depends on location, but it's still a question that we've needed to ask for the sake of consumer health.) However, educating consumers and being transparent about the data requires a delicate balance of marketing and communication.

Thomas and Bryan also discuss:

  • Social enterprises vs. non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Smart Air in international markets
  • COVID-19 and masks
  • Being a researcher/professor
  • Organizing data
  • Sharing data in workshops
  • The future for Smart Air

Check out Smart Air at

Learn more about Refrigeration Technologies HERE.

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