Air0 brings a breath of fresh air to China
Air purifiers are a growing market but one plagued by uncertain quality. Finnish company Air0 believes there is a more efficient way to clean indoor air and has built the technology to prove it.
Poor indoor air quality has a direct effect on our health. It can vary from fatigue and headaches to respiratory diseases and even reduced life expectancy. While a growing number of air purifiers promise to tackle the issue, Air0 believes their quality still leaves much to be desired.
“Most air purifiers today use HEPA filtration, which, in short, is a very tight filter. It filters impurities well but, at the same time, blocks a lot of air from flowing through it,” explains Air0 co-founder and CEO Valle Kulmala. “It means it can’t cycle enough air to clean an entire room.”
Air0 has taken a different approach. This was easier said than done, but after two years of development, the company finalised a patented four-step process in 2016. The commercial result is the smAIRt1200, an efficient, silent air purifier capable of cleaning rooms of up to 150 square metres. Air0 also focuses heavily on aesthetics, housing it in a design of wood, fabric and customisable colours. This has brought attention from China, where the product is used in large public spaces, such as hotels, offices and kindergartens.
Now Air0 has squeezed the same tech into the more compact smAIRt600: “It is suitable for business users with smaller rooms but can also be used by consumers,” Kulmala enthuses. “It can still clean rooms as large as 75 square metres.”
Breath of fresh innovation
Air0 was born in 2013 after its CTO and co-founder, Markku Rajala, visited China. It was there Rajala first realised the full extent of air purification problems and, as a known inventor with over 500 patents under his belt, started to think about a solution.
“Markku got an idea for a technology that uses looser filters [than HEPA]. Typically the problem is they don’t clean impurities well enough, but he thought about combining the looser filters with an electrical booster,” Kulmala recalls “This could be used to create an air purifier with a very high cleaning efficiency and air flow rate.”
While many purifiers promise to remove harmful particles, allergens, smokes and smells, Rajala’s idea not only achieved this, but also gave the 10-person company from Espoo its differentiator: scale.
“We knew we had a great technology, but since our competitors in China are big companies like Haier and Samsung we had to pick our target group very carefully,” Kulmala says. “There is less competition in the business market, and our products stand out even better there because of the amount of air they can clean.”
Into the clouds
The next step for Air0 is full automation. The company will soon release a cloud-based system which continuously monitors air quality and automatically adjusts the purifiers as necessary. It is part of Air0’s bid to grow its business presence in Finland, Sweden and, in particular, in China.
“We are really pleased our demand is constantly growing in China, but our market share there is still small,” Kulmala explains. “It’s a huge market, its size is hard to grasp even for us who deal with it daily. Shanghai alone is as big a market as the Nordics together.”
Air0 is also eyeing other Asian markets, such as Korea and Japan, and new segments including the consumer market. But for the company, the focus will always be on technology.
“Our long-term goal is to be the globally leading air quality company. Not necessarily in terms of turnover, but we want to be the innovator and trendsetter in the industry,” Kulmala concludes.
Text: Eeva Haaramo