Audi develops a filter to capture particulate matter in the air

Audi develops a filter to capture particulate matter in the air

The filter, part of a pilot project, can be easily integrated into Audi electric cars and ‘cleans’ the air both while driving and charging. In high polluted cities it can even absorb particulate matter generated by three vehicles.

Audi Urban Purifier is an innovative particulate filter designed for electric cars that collects particulate matter from the surrounding area. Audi is developing it together with its partner MANN+HUMMEL and has already verified through specific pilot tests that this solution has helped improve air quality both while driving and charging.

Regardless of a car's drive system, 85% of fine dust associated with vehicular mobility is caused by brake, tire or abrasion. The smallest dust particles, hardly noticeable to the naked eye, have a diameter of only 10 micrometers and can be easily inhaled. That is why the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended significantly lower particulate matter limits, but experts say this would impossible to comply with these new values in many urban areas.


Sustainability and responsibility

For Audi, sustainability is a founding value. The company takes responsibility for the environment and society and is committed to the forefront of radical emission reductions and to making the production process carbon neutral. And the new filter that collects vehicular and environmental particulate matter is part of this commitment.

The new technology uses the logic of stationary systems, which are already in use in several cities, and ensures that it not only absorbs fine particulates generated by the cars on which it is installed, but also those present in urban environments and generated by other vehicles. This pilot project started in 2020, will run for a period of four years and “is an example of Audi’s pursuit of innovation for everyone’s benefit and a successful collaboration with specialized suppliers. We are already doing a lot today on our own initiative. We anticipate it will also become a legal requirement in the future”, explains Fabian Groh, Project Manager in Attachment System Development at AUDI AG.


50,000 km test

The filter is integrated into the front of the vehicle, upstream of the radiator, and requires only a few modifications to the structure to be installed. The filter element is controlled via the switchable cooling air inlet and its mechanical function is comparable to that of a vacuum cleaner: fine dust particles remain stuck in the filter while the air flows on its way.

So far, the system has been tested on Audi e-tron test vehicles: while driving, it passively filters by means of the movement of the vehicle, while during charging, the flow is generated thanks to the activation of the cooling system that conveys air from outside. After more than 50,000 kilometers of testing, the results were positive, both in terms of the effectiveness of the filtration system and the on-board integration, which did not create any problems even on hot summer days or during fast charging.

Effectiveness and maintenance

The system has proven to be very effective: in a highly polluted city such as Stuttgart, all particulate matter in front of the car is collected and filtered. In more polluted cities, a single Audi e-tron can absorb -- considering both phases -- the particulate matter generated by three vehicles. To make the system even more efficient, Audi and MANN+HUMMEL are developing a connection with public infrastructure, for example weather stations, to calibrate the action of the filters to weather conditions and to show the driver the results of the filtering action.

Maintenance of the filter system is simple and consists of replacing the component during standard service intervals. With the Audi Urban Purifier, considering the entire life cycle of a car, particulate emissions can be reduced in amounts of 14.9 kg of CO2 equivalent. The filter parts are made of 15% recycled materials, and the entire system uses 60% secondary components.


VGI | Responsible OU: VP | Creation date: article date | Class 9.1

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