• Teen invents system to improve in-flight air quality

    (Photo by Kathy Wolfe, Intel)

    (Photo by Kathy Wolfe, Intel)

    The likelihood of catching someone else’s illness while in an airplane with them is relatively low, and getting lower with every new advancement in air filtration and circulation. But there’s still a chance. We wrote about this last October, when people fretted about the spread of Ebola (which can’t be transmitted through the air)

    Raymond Wang, a 17-year-old who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, believes he has a solution that improves air quality and also lowers disease transmission rates, and his system won him first prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair earlier this month.

    “The biggest problem is, in conventional cabins, there are mixing flow patterns of air which basically mix pathogens everywhere,” Wang said in an interview with Lee Hawkins on WSJ live, a video service of the Wall Street Journal. “So when a middle seat guy sneezes, it carries across the rows and across the cabin. That was the problem I wanted to tackle.”

    Wang’s system, according to an Intel news posting, improves the availability of fresh air in the cabin by more than 190 percent while reducing pathogen inhalation concentrations by up to 55 times compared to conventional designs, and can be easily and economically incorporated in existing airplanes. It’s a fin-like system that is fitted over existing airplane air vents, meaning older planes can easily be retrofitted without taking them out of service for extended periods of time.

    Wang describes this in his own words, and talks about his plans going forward, in the rest of the interview. You can watch it below: