Innovator Yogi Goswami
Engineering professor at the University of South Florida and co-founder of Molekule, a seven-person startup in San Francisco
Form and function
The Molekule air purifier shines UV light from LEDs onto a catalyst-infused filter to break down volatile organic compounds, bacteria, mold, and viruses. A regular purifier’s HEPA filters just trap them.
Goswami wanted to develop an air purifier that’s more effective than HEPA filters because his son Dilip—now CEO of Molekule—suffers from severe allergies and asthma.
Molekule has so far raised $3.75 million through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Small Business Innovation Research Program and a venture capital seed round led by Crosslink Capital, CSC Upshot, and SoftTech VC.
The purifier went on presale at molekule.com on May 24 for $499—a $300 discount from the expected retail price. It includes a year’s worth of filters. The first devices will ship in early 2017.
A fan blows air across a prefilter to trap dust, pollen, and other large particles. Smaller, more harmful particles are trapped by a nanofilter.
UV light activates a proprietary catalyst on the nanofilter to react with moisture and oxygen in the air. The process, patented by Goswami, creates free radicals that oxidize and break down microscopic organic matter trapped by the filter.
The company is planning on another funding round later this year. Goswami wants to target the commercial and transportation markets. Bernard Olson, a University of Minnesota research scientist who has tested Molekule, calls it a “significant breakthrough” that is “completely effective in destroying microorganisms and volatile organic compounds” and in preventing pathogens from colonizing filters.