It Takes a Forest

CoverPage_NeoForest_EngHKUST students have developed an innovative air purifier that combats air-conditioning syndrome with forest-grade air.

Although air-conditioning is a blessing for office workers, it does have troublesome side effects. Carbon dioxide accumulates and oxygen levels drop in air-conditioned offices throughout the day, making it difficult to focus, promoting tiredness and generating anxiety.

Aware of this noxious situation, Dr Zhang Di (Ph.D., Bioengineering, 2014), and the founding members of NeoForest developed a 40 square meter photosynthetic air purifier. It uses microalgae instead of filters to purify air. The microalgae perform photosynthesis that generates oxygen and cleans up carbon dioxide and various air pollutants, which effectively combat the often-seen air conditioning syndrome in many offices that hinders the mind to think and respond.

As a graduate student from China, Dr Zhang and her team see great market potential of their invention. “The market size of air purifiers in China was about 13 billion RMB in 2015, and currently no existing products in the market can do what NeoForest does,” said Zhang. “This gives us a unique advantage and enormous room for growth.”

Through HKUST’s annual One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition, Dr Zhang’s team was able to find many potential collaborators, who have expressed their interest in turning their invention into reality. Now the team has offered custom-made versions to corporations, and expects to launch the product by 2018. Soon we could all benefit from the sweet scent of forest air.

NeoForest was crowned the 1st runner up in the University’s sixth annual One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition in June, and again in the national final in Guangzhou.

One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition offers a platform for the HKUST community to bring their innovative ideas from concepts to consumers, for more information on the competition and NeoForest, please click here.