Saab invention gives pollen-free zones for allergy sufferers

Posted on 21. May, 2001 by in 2000-2009, Innovations

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2001-05-21

Saab invention gives pollen-free zones for allergy sufferers

Spring brings in its wake large quantities of pollen that cause problems to many allergy sufferers in all corners of the world. But the pollen filter – a 20-year-old Saab invention in the field – makes the car a sanctuary and a pollen-free zone.

The world’s first pollen filter was launched back in 1978 as a standard item of equipment in the Saab 900. Since then, it has been fitted as standard to all Saab cars. The idea originated from Saab, and the introduction of the filter was preceded by collaboration with doctors and Swedish filter manufacturers.

The Saab invention solved the problems experienced by allergy sufferers. Articles in newspapers around the world reported on how people who suffered from allergies chose to sleep in their Saab cars when the pollen count was at its peak. That was the only place where they were assured of relief from their discomfort.

First electrostatic filter
“Although the first filter was effective, we took a major step forward in 1990 by introducing the electrostatic filter,” says Anders Johansson, an engineer at Saab Automobile who has been working on development matters associated with the interior climate in cars.

“The ability of a filter to arrest the very small particles was improved by applying an electrical charge to the filter. Development then advanced in stages, and today’s filter greatly reduces the number of particles admitted into the car, even those as small as 0.25 thousandth of a millimetre.”

In this context, pollen particles are relatively quite big. Birch pollen, for example, can be seen with the naked eye. Pollen filters are now fairly common in well-equipped cars in Europe. In Saab cars, these filters are still part of the standard equipment and contribute towards creating a very clean climate inside the car.

Combined filter cleans and deodorizes the air
“The filters we use today are combined filters,” says Anders Johansson. “They obviously arrest pollen, but they also collect other small particles, including air pollutants such as dust and soot. The combined filter also includes activated carbon that reduces unpleasant and offensive odours, such as those of diesel exhaust gases.”

On certain types of particles, the collecting efficiency of the filter is as good as 99 percent.

“It would be difficult to achieve much better efficiencies than 99 percent without the systems having to be made very complex and tight. Filters are consumables that gradually become saturated with the particles they arrest. So Saab normally recommends filter changes at 30 000 km intervals.”

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