Electrosmell: Electrochemical modulation of odorant molecules

Value Proposition

Up to 1 billion people in the world defecate in the open. This is a major public health issue, as diarrhea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 315,000 children every year (WASHwatch 2016).Disease transmission at work, mostly caused by poor sanitation and hygiene practices, causes 17% of all workplace deaths (International Labour Organization (ILO) 2003). Malodor is a primary reason that people fail to adopt good sanitation practices including toilet use. Odor mitigation is a major focus for research and development to promote adoption of toilet facilities. Current methods for odor mitigation involve either masking the unpleasant smell with a more pleasant one (such as spraying an air freshener), or absorbing the malodors (such as deodorants), or a combination of the two. These methods are effective in small spaces for moderate odors, but more sophisticated technology is needed to combat the strength and magnitude of malodors from rudimentary toilet solutions.

Technology

The proposed technology (Electrosmell) presents a novel method of mitigating odor by electrochemically changing the structure of the odorants into better-smelling molecules. This is a creative solution that will draw ambient air into an electrochemical cell. Inside the cell, the odors will undergo a chemical reaction. Most common odorants consist of a carbon backbone ending with functional groups such as aldehydes, alcohols, or ketones. In the device, polarized electrodes will transform the target odorant into a more pleasant smell by changing one of the functional groups. This chemistry can change malodors into any one of a hundred candidate pleasant-smelling homologs. The modified air enriched with pleasant odorants will be released in the facility. Electrosmell thus has the potential to improve over current technologies that involve masking, filtration and adsorption which require regular maintenance. Electrosmell could eliminate these hardships, or reduce them to something as simple as changing a battery.

Applications

Odor mitigation device.

Digital scent device.

Advantages

  • Can be tailored to generate a spectrum of pleasant smelling molecules.
  • Simple, small plug-in device.