“For me, it’s important to work on products that are relevant to people, and products that are actually solving a problem. I believe that everyone deserves to breathe clean air,” says Product Developer Mauricio Affonso.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is the single largest environmental health risk, estimated to kill one in eight people globally, due to heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease and cancer. Approximately three million people per year are killed prematurely from outdoor air pollution. Indoor pollution causes about a further 4.3 million deaths. In some places in the world, pollution is five times higher inside than outside.
“Many people know that outdoor air pollution can be a problem, but not many are aware that indoor air can be as bad, or even worse than the outdoor air. That is why we see it as our responsibility to bring awareness to the problems associated with indoor air pollution, this way people can do something about it,” says Mauricio.
Together with a team of engineers, designers and specialists, Mauricio has been working on an affordable solution to clean indoor air. The technology has been developed by IKEA over the last years together with universities in Europe and Asia, IKEA suppliers and innovators. The outcome of the research is the air purifying curtain GUNRID, a textile that breaks down common indoor air pollutants such as odours and formaldehyde.
“We wanted to create a simple, convenient and affordable way to clean air that wouldn’t take up much space in people’s homes. We were also curious about creating a product that is multifunctional and that would help break down air pollutants that many air purifiers leave behind,” says Mauricio.
The technology behind GUNRID is both unique and innovative. It consists of a mineral based, photo catalyst coating that is applied to the textile. When activated by light – both indoor and outdoor light – GUNRID breaks down common indoor air pollutants.
“Photo catalysts are generally only activated by sunlight, but the coating we have developed together with our partners also reacts to indoor light,” says Mauricio.
Successful laboratory tests have been carried out to ensure that the photo catalyst coating works and that it is safe. The next step is chamber tests and home tests to confirm that GUNRID efficiently removes volatile organic compounds in a room.
GUNRID air purifying curtain will be available in IKEA stores next year. It is one of the first IKEA products that tackles indoor air pollution, but likely not the last.
“Wouldn’t it be great if everything in our homes could contribute to better air and a healthier life at home?” says Mauricio.