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DIY emergency Air filter

Project Oxygen:

DIY air filter, you need a water bottle, 2 T shirt, 2 pieces of threads, and a knife.

Oxygen is always in the air even under heavy smoke, the problem is that the air is contaminated by smoke from the forest fire.  A good fitting respirator, such as N95 mask, to filter out the smoke particles is a common solution. However, under emergency situation, it may not be possible to distribute N95 masks to all who needs it. Further more, even if the mask is available, it is not easy to ensure it is fitting correctly. A non-fitting N95 mask is not effective.

Here is a simple idea to transform readily available material into an air filter, which is able to filter the air for breathing safely.

To create this DIY air filter, you need a couple of T-shirts and a plastic water bottle plus a couple of strings. Based on our test with a professional machine (Portacount Pro 8038) such DIY filter is able to reduce air pollution up to 40 folds, achieving a filtration efficiency similar to N95 masks. It is capable of bringing down the fine particles (PM2.5, PM10) from super hazardous level (PSI 1000) to moderate (PSI 75).

Instruction video

Link to YouTube video

Here is a step by step guide:

How to DIY a personal air filter from water bottle and T shirts?
1) Cut some holes in the middle section of a water bottle
2) Fold up and roll a couple of T-shirt around the water bottle. (the one in the following video create 20 layer of fabric)
3) Tight the top and bottom part with a string to seal the gaps
4) suck air from the water bottle.
5) breathing mouth in, nose out.
Working principle:
Polluted air enters the bottle through the many layers of T Shirts material. Most fine particles will be trapped in between the many (20+) layers of fabric. We measured with a professional machine and the pollution can be reduced by 40 times (97.5% filtration efficiency). This is equals to bring the PSI down from 1000 to 75, a substantial improvement of air quality from readily available material on hand.

Fig. 1 Working principle of the DIY water bottle air filter


DIY air filter cuts down pollution by 40 folds (97.5% filtration efficiency), bringing down the PSI from super hazardous 1000 to moderate 75.



Working principle + finished sample of DIY air filter

If you feel this idea is useful for someone you know, please share. Here is link to a PDF file for printing to share:  water-bottle-air-filter.  If you have more ideas or suggestions, please let me know in the comment as well.

Note: The idea of DIY water bottle air filter has been demonstrated in our Lab in Singapore to show that it is effective to cut down air pollution. However different fabric material has different filtration characteristic. This idea has not been certified by any authority. User agree to take own responsibility for the use of the idea.

Commercial offer:

Totobobo mask online store

Totobobo mask International dealers

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • João Miguel Dos Santos Simões Moreira Cardoso 2020-03-12, 6:08 pm

    It doesn’t work because when you remove your mouth it gets filled with whichever fumes present at the time. Plus if you breathe into it, pressure will go up, forcing oxygen out which leaves co2, at which point its rise in concentration and repeatedly breathing in co2 can prove detrimental.

    • FC 2020-03-13, 4:18 pm

      Hi João, Thank you for pointing out. The proper way to breath with the DIY air filter is: “Inhale through the mouth, exhale through the nose.”

    • Nate Z 2020-04-07, 4:10 pm

      A simple valve could be made with another bottle attatched where incoming air comes through the filter and outgoing air, blocked by the one way valve, is pushed through the second bottle, allowing one to breath normally.

      The whole thing could be hitched to some kind of harness to a hat or something so you don’t have to hold it.

  • Julian 2020-01-28, 10:54 pm

    As I do know this could be useful some cottons perform different that others. This makes this research incorrect in some areas.

  • Baabak 2019-12-29, 12:13 am

    Naturally, It depends on what material the t-shirts are made of. There are plenty of different combinations of polyester and cotton. Therefore I think this research is incompelete.

    • FC 2019-12-30, 6:16 pm

      Thanks for your comment Baabak. As research, this project is far from complete. Different fabric combinations do perform differently. For example, synthetic fabric performs better than cotton.
      The intention of this project is to introduce a practical and easy solution in an emergency situation. Any fabric used is better than no solution.

      • Paul 2020-02-05, 11:10 pm

        Can we have a list of effectiveness of this thing depending on what fabric used
        Just for investigatory project only
        Thank you

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