Nobody likes bad smells, but when you're in space, there's no escape from them. The smells are so intense astronaut Scott Kelly likened them to the smell of a jail. Nor would traditional air fresheners work; they release chemicals into the environment, and you can't throw open a window to get some fresh air in.
The answer turned out to be photocatalysis, which destroys stench by blasting it with UV light, with the added bonus of killing off airborne germs. And now, you can bring that technology home with the VentiFresh ECO for $58.99, 29% off the usual price.
What Is Photocatalysis?
We're all familiar with catalysts; They're substances that make it easier for chemical reactions to occur. Specifically, they provide some of the energy needed to make that reaction happy. A catalytic converter, for example, uses platinum to yank a nitrogen molecule out of nitrogen compounds in car exhaust while oxidizing carbon monoxide.
As you might guess from the name, photocatalysts get their energy from light, specifically ultraviolet (UV) light. This gives you more control over the reaction, and unlike a filter, which traps smells, or a chemical spray that covers them up, destroys offending odor in question.
How Photocatalysis Destroys Bad Smells
Every smell you experience is thanks to volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. They're "volatile" in the chemical sense, meaning they vaporize quickly, and organic, in this case, means they've got carbon as one of their constituent atoms. If you've ever uncapped a bottle of rubbing alcohol and immediately regretted it? Thank VOCs.
Something, like, say, your cat's litter box is rife with VOCs that drift out of the box, up your nose and latch onto your olfactory nerve, which transmits the signal to your brain, usually telling it to run from the room and buy more litter.
Photocatalysis uses light and chemical reactions to destroy these VOCs. When you plug in your VentiFresh, it begins pulling in VOCs, with either a quiet mode for those times when you need peace or a turbo mode for when you need fresh air. Even better, this doesn't require any consumable or sprayed chemicals, making it a more sustainable freshener.
As the light raises the energy of the catalyst, the VOCs flow over it, and the catalyst begins yanking out the various atoms that make up the smell. Without those atoms to trigger the olfactory nerve, the smell is gone.
As a bonus, photocatalysis is perfect for removing airborne microorganisms. Just like a human needs to be careful how much UV light they're exposed to, it's bad for germs. Short-wavelength UV, also known as UV-C, is particularly nasty in this regard. UV-C destroys nucleic acids and disrupts DNA.
For a human-sized organism, a little UV-C isn't a big deal; just wear some sunscreen, and the VentiFresh's UV light is carefully contained to prevent human contact. The much smaller airborne germs, though, when they're sucked into the VentiFresh, the UV-C light activating the catalyst kills them off, giving you a powerful two for one.
Easy To Place, Use, And Run
Another virtue of the VentiFresh is its small size and USB power source. It's easy to mount on walls and can be run off a power bank, so wherever you've got a bad smell, you can place it. You can plug it into a USB charger, or use a battery pack to run it only when you need it.
We may never visit the International Space Station, but there's no reason we should take an accidental olfactory tour of it either. And at 29% off, the VentiFresh ECO will keep your home smelling better, sustainably.
Futurism fans: To create this content, a non-editorial team worked with an affiliate partner. We may collect a small commission on items purchased through this page. This post does not necessarily reflect the views or the endorsement of the Futurism.com editorial staff.
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