At the Greentech Festival in London, Audi is showcasing a particulate filter for its electric cars that collects particles from the surrounding environment. It works while driving but also when the vehicle is stationary. The technology is currently in a prototype phase.
As braking, tires, and road abrasion cause 85% of fine dust in road traffic, car makers are looking for sophisticated filter systems to purify the air. Together with Mann+Hummel, Audi has developed one that fits in the front end of an E-Tron.
Like a vacuum cleaner
The filter can work both passively and actively. In the first case, the car’s movement pushes the air through the filter, which in turn traps the particulates. Apart from purifying its own emissions, the particles from nearby vehicles are also trapped. When the E-Tron is charging, the Urban Air Cleaner continues to work. It then operates the fan in the nose to suck in air from the surroundings, cleaning it up like a vacuum cleaner.
The filter is especially effective in urban areas, where fine particles pose a bigger threat to the health of its inhabitants. According to Audi, the Urban Air Purifier has exemplary longevity, with a replacement only needed at regular intervals. The filter itself is made from 15% recycled materials. In a pilot, Audi will be testing the technology until 2024.
Advanced air cleaning technology is not new. Tesla introduced the HEPA filter already in 2016, which is capable of purifying the cabin from particulates and has a bioweapon defense mode to protect its passenger in the worst of events.
Volvo introduced a particulate matter sensor in the cabins of the 60 and 90 series two years ago. A synthetic fiber-based filter can clean the air if a certain threshold is reached.
With no local CO2 emissions and a lot less toxic emissions, electric vehicles are shifting the focus to fine particles from braking and tires. A few weeks ago, the German Aerospace Center tested the ZEDU-1, called the world’s first zero-emission vehicle. Its encapsulated wheels can suck away the microplastics released by the tires, and the braking system is incorporated into the e-motors. Mercedes introduced a sophisticated purifier system on the Sustaineer, a prototype for the LCV market.