2022 Challenge Winner – University of Idaho

Team Members:

Tais Mitchell – Graduate Student in Mechanical Engineering

Jason Talford – Graduate Student in Mechanical Engineering

School: University of Idaho

Challenge: Equal Access to Healthy Indoor Air

Develop  a holistic solution to address indoor air quality (IAQ) inequities in the United States. This topic relates to both the technical aspects of IAQ as well as other areas including IAQ-related policy, epidemiology, environmental justice, community economic impact, commercialization, codes and standards, and appropriate metrics development.

Project Title: Easiair

Solution: Across the past couple of years, there have been several record-breaking wildfires in the pacific northwest. The smoke produced from these fires is purposely brought into homes using exhaust ventilation methods. This directly exposes millions of US citizens to fine particulate matter and numerous secondary contaminants which can be damaging to a person’s health. Current solutions to improve indoor air quality do not comprehensively address the problem or require an expensive retrofit that can be unobtainable for low-income households. This situation results in systemic poor indoor air quality, degrading health, and denies families the ability to improve their situation. Recently there has been increased attention to indoor air quality because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has helped initiate positive change.

The Easiair device draws upon traditional techniques that bring filtered outside air into the conditioned space and slightly pressurize the house to reverse the filtration direction. The initial prototype developed was found to work great at reducing particulate and co2 levels in the test house. From prototype testing and engineering predictions, we believe that the Easiair’s cost-effective design is an equitable solution to poor indoor air. This design also mitigates the infiltration of secondary contaminants such as radon, and biological hazards. The Easiair team is excited to continue testing and developing this device towards commercialization for the betterment of our regional community!