Help may be on the way for people with compromised immune systems, severe allergies, or who otherwise have to be wary of airborne nasties. A team of scientists have created something known as a soft x-ray electrostatic precipitator, or an SXC ESP for short. It filters all manner of bacteria, allergens, viruses, and ultrafine particles from the air – plus, it kills everything it catches.
Electrostatic precipitators (ESPs) already exist, and work by applying an electrical charge to airborne particles, which are subsequently drawn to an oppositely-charged metallic collection plate. According to the researchers, however, ESPs aren’t very efficient at trapping smaller particles – specifically in the submicrometer and nanometer size range.
HEPA filters are also very commonly used, although they require relatively frequent cleaning, and become energy-inefficient if those cleanings are missed.
To create the SXC ESP, the scientists added a shielded soft x-ray emitter to an ESP....