It sounds like the premise to a science fiction film: Company with strange sounding name (Bio-Reaction Industries) develops a system to clean the air with bacteria, and turns us all into zombies. But the Oregon-based company’s system is very real, and it cleans the air in industrial workplaces with help from microbes that eat carbon-based molecules which do not cause zombie-itis (as far as we know).
Here’s how it works: Air filled with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like formaldehyde, benzene, and methanol moves through two microbial reaction chambers to create water vapor, heat, and carbon dioxide. The microbes move quickly, gobbling up alcohols at a 90% level in six to 12 seconds.
CO2 is certainly a nasty byproduct, but Bio-Reaction’s process is cleaner than the traditional VOC-banishing method of incinerating VOCs in natural gas-fueled furnaces. The furnaces generate significantly more CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) than Bio-Reaction’s system.
Bio-Reaction has already attracted interest from a number of paint shops and industrial facilities. Last year, the company installed nine systems in North America and two in China–not bad for a product that costs between $1 million and $15 million a pop. With potential operating cost savings of 90% and carbon footprint reductions of 85%, don’t be surprised if Bio-Reaction’s process catches on bigtime.