This story is part of, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets of the entirely virtual CES 2021.
As thehas reordered life across much of the world, new and old forms of consumer technology have pushed forward to provide solutions: , and — in homes and workplaces — . While conventional air purifiers don’t solve the problem of COVID-19, they can reduce its spread by removing aerosol particles that normally take hours to naturally settle out of the air. And now, at , device makers are showing off new air purifiers, boasting more mobile designs, more effective filtration and more creative approaches to the basic logic of air cleaning.
I’ve written about the best consumer air purifiers on the market and interviewed air quality researchers, and in general the most effective air filtration technology is HEPA — a method for cleaning air that’s been around for decades. Most air purifiers on the market use HEPA filters, which essentially move air through a plastic or fiberglass screen designed to capture at least 99.7% of particles 0.3 micrometers in size (a particularly difficult size to capture).
The air purifiers at CES 2021 are venturing in new directions, though. Here are some of the trends I’ve noticed.
Sustainability: The first trend at CES is an increased focus on minimizing waste. Both Luftqi’s and CleanAirZone’s purifiers, for instance, ditch filter replacements altogether, opting for washable filters. Other patterns I wouldn’t be surprised to see as more products are announced include energy efficiency and environmentally friendly device hardware, using sustainably sourced materials, for example.
Innovation in methods of filtration: Manufacturers have been testing other methods of filtration for years, but HEPA-based air purifiers have remained the industry standard because they’re so reliable. Larger companies, such as TCL, Brondell and LG are sticking with this method, even if they’re adding other technology to their devices. That said, with the explosion of research on the topic, we will doubtless see more devices attempting to use newer approaches to air cleaning. While these devices certainly need to be tested before we sing their praises, this sort of innovation is welcome, if only for how it develops our understanding of air quality and purification in the long run.
COVID-19: The coronavirus isn’t just the elephant in the room at CES this year, it’s the room itself. The pandemic has totally reshaped CES, and it’s a huge motivator for device makers. Addressing dust and pollen will be much lower on the list of priorities for developers selling their purifiers than talking about eliminating airborne virus particles. That means UV light and other forms of disinfecting technology might be disproportionately represented in this year’s air purifiers — as we can already see with almost every air cleaner developer focusing much of their messaging on how their devices eliminate virus particles.
While I’m not able to test these gadgets yet, these new air purifiers do represent some genuinely exciting ideas. Here are the most inventive air cleaners at CES 2021 so far.
Luftqi Luft Duo
An air purifier you can carry with you
Luftqi’s Luft Duo is a battery-powered air purifier that you can take anywhere you go. If you want to put it on your desk at work, then bring it in the car or even set it up on your table at the coffee shop, the Luft Duo will apparently clean the air around you throughout the day.
The Luft Duo also has a removable, washable filter, instead of using disposable HEPA filters. In addition, it uses ultraviolet LEDs and photocatalytic (basically light-activated) tech to break down irritants and pathogens. This sort of approach might sound familiar if you’ve followed air purifying devices like Molekule, which used another form of photocatalytic tech to break down small particles. Molekule has run into performance issues, but that doesn’t mean the underlying technology doesn’t have a lot of potential.
The 2020 crowdfunding campaign for the Luft Duo was incredibly successful, raising over $300,000 in the past few months, so excitement for this air purifier is running high. We’re excited to test it out ourselves.
Airthings Wave sensors
Airthings’ new devices aren’t purifiers, but they’re innovative gadgets that could work well with air purifiers — and could be intelligently combined with them in the future. The Wave Plus sensor tracks risk factors associated with viral transmission in work places, namely CO2 levels, humidity and temperature. It then feeds that information to office managers, who in theory can make adjustments to make the room more inhospitable to errant virus particles.
The Wave Mini is meant for in-home use, and it focuses on risk factors for mold, rather than virus transmission.
Both of these devices are really creative ways to help people understand different sorts of air quality in different spaces. While they aren’t air purifiers, I think the ideas behind them could be influential for the design of future purifiers — especially as many air cleaners already use some form of air quality monitoring.
Cleaning with natural biotics, rather than filters
CleanAirZone, or CAZ, is showing off a new air purifier at CES that cleans the air using “natural biotics and enzymes derived from nature,” rather than using traditional filters. The company says that its proprietary cocktail of water, microbiotics and natural enzymes will eliminate pollutants in the air, including coronavirus particles.
CAZ’s goal is to remove the waste of other air purifiers — their disposable filters, most notably — and create a more sustainable, “green” environment in the home. As with other air cleaners on this list, the technology is promising, but we’re withholding judgment until we can test the product ourselves.
The rest of the purifiers
The Luft Duo and CAZ purifiers are the two most interesting devices announced so far at CES, although there are certainly more on the way once the show begins in earnest next week. But a few other big companies are getting in on the demand for air purifying devices during the pandemic.
Most notably, Brondell is soon releasing its Pro Sanitizing Air Purifier, which is a tank of a device: Rather than focusing on innovative new filtration strategies, Brondell’s air cleaner uses the shotgun approach. That means HEPA filtration, a disinfecting UV lamp, a nanocrystalline filter and a plasma generator. Each of these technologies has strengths and weaknesses, but altogether, they cover most of the airborne irritants and contagions you’ll find in any house.
The Brondell Pro can effectively clean the air in a 538-square-foot space and will sell at major retailers for $650.
LG has announced three new air purifiers — the PuriCare Mini, PuriCare and PuriCare 360 — each of which covers small-to-moderate areas in the house with conventional HEPA or HEPA-like filtration. While pricing hasn’t yet been released, they’re comparable to purifiers costing under $500. The only released PuriCare air cleaner to date costs well over $1,000 for about 500 square feet of coverage, so they may end up landing in more premium price categories than devices of their size typically land.
CES has barely even begun, so we’ll update this article as the show progresses, adding more devices as we find them.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.