Project No: 16211421

Title: Electrospun Catalytic Nanofibers for Air Disinfection and Purification

Principal Investigator: Prof. King Lun YEUNG


Indoor air pollutants include infectious droplets and aerosols, particulate matters (PMs), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that affect the occupants’ health and well-being. Infectious droplets and aerosols are an important vector for the spread of respiratory diseases, while PMs and VOCs cause airway inflammation and impair lung function, increasing the illness’s severity. Respiratory diseases are responsible for some of the most devastating epidemics and pandemics. In less than a year, the COVID-19 pandemic claims more than a million lives, infecting close to 40 million people, and paralyzes the world economy. Early in the pandemic, the Asia Development Bank estimates the economic cost of COVID-19 to range from US$2 to US$4.1 trillion. The latest estimate from the World Economic Forum puts the global cost closer to between US$8.1 and US$15.8 trillion.

There is an urgency to develop new and efficient technologies to mitigate the spread of infectious respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 and the adverse health impact of poor air quality. This project aims to develop an antimicrobial catalyst technology for rapid air disinfection and purification. The low temperature, aliovalent-doped ceria can generate highly reactive surface peroxide species at near room temperature that can attack biological molecules causing damages that affect the viability of microorganisms. These surface peroxides also react and convert organic molecules of VOCs into harmless CO2 and H2O. Electrospinning the antimicrobial catalyst into ultrathin nanofiber mesh for ultra-low flow resistance filters can rapidly and effectively capture and disinfect infectious droplets and aerosols, PMs, and VOCs from the air. A prototype air-cleaning device will be designed and built for testing to assess antimicrobial catalytic nanofiber filters’ engineering performance under practical use conditions.