An Expert Guide to Molekule Air PurifiersPublished on 11/11/2022 · 7 min readAir purifiers are a great way to keep your home clean and healthy! Air Purification Expert Julie B. gives a rundown of Molekule brand purifiers in this guide!
Photo courtesy of Molekule
I’m a bit of a science geek. I follow doctors on Instagram. I track my health stats with at least two trackers on a daily basis. I monitor my oxygen consumption and heart rate variability while I sleep. I have a smart water bottle that recommends and tracks the amount of water I should drink each day. I read books written by doctors and scientists for fun. And I’m always looking into new products that promise to improve my daily quality of life. When I discovered Molekule Air Purifiers, I was immediately hooked.
Based out of San Francisco, Molekule was established in 2014 by a family of scientists and engineers. Its origins center around a pretty cool story about a father trying to solve his son’s breathing issues caused by allergies and asthma. So, that father, Dr. Yogi Gaswami—distinguished professor and director of the Clean Energy Research Center at the University of South Florida—decided to take matters into his own hands and attack the most common denominator between all humanity: air quality. He developed the Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) technology that powers Molekule’s air purifiers over a period of 25 years.
More on Gaswami’s decorated career can be found at Dr. Yogi Goswami: How a Solar Energy Scientist Became a Clean Air Innovator. Goswami’s daughter, Jaya Rao—a Stanford graduate in engineering, jumped on board and teamed up with Dilip, her brother—another Stanford engineering graduate—and Yogi to found Molekule Air Purifiers.
I stumbled across Molekule’s YouTube channel and was not surprised to find current videos of Dr. Gaswami running tests on the air purifiers in Molekule’s labs. With a deep dive into Molekule’s website, I found the actual white papers they used to present their original findings. You can also find a timeline on the continuous improvements being made to their devices, the most recent being an update to the Molekule Air Pro’s technology in March 2022.
The company has won several awards, including being nominated by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 inventions of 2017. You can also find a list of the major businesses that use Molekule air purifiers, including Clif, Fender, and Mercy Health hospital. Further, the company responded to the SARS-COV-2 pandemic by donating products to small businesses to help them reopen their doors with cleaner air in 2021.
How It Works
Molekule’s PECO (photoelectrochemical oxidation) technology uses UV light in the air and a photocatalyst to produce hydroxyl radicals. Radicals are atoms that have at least one unpaired electron. The hydroxyl radicals, or “free radicals,” then look to combine with another element pulled from the air. These other elements can include viruses, bacteria, mold, ozone allergens or chemicals.
Once the free radical is joined to another element, it then breaks that element down into carbon dioxide, water, and trace elements. For you visual learners out there, here’s a short video that explains the technology. This is essential to completely destroying what is in the air and producing clear air.
Oftentimes, an air purifier will filter the air, but the pollutants or pathogens remain stuck in the filters. With PECO technology, everything that could potentially still be lingering on the filter is broken down on a molecular level and destroyed, so you don’t have to worry about lingering bacteria, smells, mold, or viruses.
There are other products out there that may claim to use similar technology called PCO (photocatalytic oxidation). The biggest difference between PCO and PECO is that PECO is more efficient and faster. PECO is also ozone-free and emits no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), unlike many PCO models. If you want another in-depth scientific explanation, check out PECO v. PCO Air Purifiers: How are they different?
Molekule’s air purifiers have been cleared by the FDA as a 510(k) Class II medical device. This means that it has passed the agency’s rigorous testing for the right to be marketed and used as a medical device. This clearance became especially important for air purifiers when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared as a public health emergency. So, if you want something that is proven to clean the air, filter out dust, pollen, pet hair and dander, destroy viruses, bacteria, mold, odors, and VOCs, and could be run in such sterilized environments as a hospital, then this certification is extremely important for an air purifier.
Molekule’s purifiers have a 360-degree air intake. This feature pulls air from all around the purifier instead of just right in front or behind it, which means it can filter through a larger quantity of air and pull contaminated air from all directions. It also has a 360-degree output as well. And unlike traditional filters, the filters on the Molekules’ are circular.
Of note is that Molekule does not market its filters as traditional HEPA filters; this was, no doubt, carefully thought out by the creator of the PECO process. Molekule stands behind its product without needing the HEPA label, which can be confusing or deceiving to consumers. For a great rundown, check out this blog article on Molekule’s website: True HEPA Filter: What It Is and What It Isn’t.
Molekule believes they have proven their science beyond a shadow of a doubt and does not need to rely on a label that may or may not be legitimate. The Research and Design team at Molekule work to continually advance their filters so the consumer gets the most updated technology with every new filter purchased.
So, now that we have some of the history, qualifications, and science down, let’s take a look at the models that Molekule offers:
The Pro is for those who want coverage for large rooms, and for data-driven individuals like me—who want an app for their phone that shows how the purifier is performing and what is being filtered out of the air. It even shows the amount of time your air quality was either good, moderate, bad, or very bad, and what particles were detected.
These stats, including the current air quality, can also be viewed on the touchscreen on top of the unit. If you want to “set it and forget it,” it has two auto-protect modes against chemicals and air particles. The first mode automatically adjusts through six fan speeds based on the quality of the air. The second mode (quiet mode) will only use the quieter fan speeds, which is great for nighttime.
- Room size coverage: Up to 1000 sq ft(92.9 m²)
- Detection: Particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10) down to 0.3 µm, VOCs, CO2, relative humidity
- Fan speeds: 6 manual speeds
- Filters: Multi-layer PECO-Filter
- Size: 23.1 in. (58.6 cm) high, 10.9 in. (27.8 cm) wide
The Molekule Air Mini+ is for people who may not need as much coverage as the pro offers, and who want something that is portable and takes up less space. The Mini+ operates exactly like the Pro. However, there are a few differences. When the unit is running on auto mode, it will adjust only to particles detected in the air, not chemicals. The other main difference is that the technology on the Molekule app for the Mini+ is not as inclusive as the Pro, and Mini+ does not have a touch screen on the unit. However, I would not be surprised if Molekule rolls out more tech for this model, as the smart app was recently just updated for the Pro.
- Room size coverage: Up to 250 square feet (23 m²)
- Detection: Particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5, PM10) down to 0.3 µm, VOCs
- Fan speeds: 6 manual speeds
- Filters: Multi-layer PECO-Filter
- Size: 12” (30.48 cm) high × 8.26” (20.98 cm) wide
I really can’t say enough about Molekule and its air purifiers. For a further dive, you can spend hours on their website, like I did to the disgruntlement of my editors and my article deadline! And if you have any other questions about Molekule or another air purifier that may suit your needs, reach out to me or another Air Purifier Expert here on Curated.