COMPARISON - Molekule / Dyson / QUARTZAIR
AIR FLOW COMPARISON - 500 sq. ft. room
How many minutes does it take to clean all the air in a 500 sq ft. room .
MOLEKULE 58 minutes
DYSON 59 minutes
QUARTZ 11 minutes
Day Time SPEED
How many minutes does it take to clean all the air in a 500 sq ft. room @ 50dB or less (acceptable daytime noise level).
MOLEKULE 1 hour & 58 minutes
DYSON 2 hours & 46 minutes
QUARTZ 20 minutes
Night Time SPEED
How many minutes does it take to clean all the air in a 500 sq ft. room @ 45dB or less (acceptable night time noise level).
MOLEKULE 3 hours & 50 minutes
DYSON 4 hours & 32 minutes
QUARTZ 40 minutes
Molekule: The worst air purifier we’ve ever tested
In 2019, we purchased a Molekule purifier and tested it. Molekule claims, “Our scientifically-proven nanotechnology outperforms HEPA filters in every category of pollutant.”
Our tests prove otherwise. The Molekule turned in the worst performance on particulates of any purifier, of any size, of any price, that we have tested in the seven years that we have been producing this guide.
The Molekule uses a proprietary mechanism to remove particles from the air, which the company terms PECO: photo electrochemical oxidation. It’s a derivation of an older technology, PCO (photocatalytic oxidation), originally developed for fruit-storage warehouses as a way of destroying ethylene, a compound that fruit naturally produces to hasten its ripening. Briefly summed up: PECO and PCO use the excitation of titanium dioxide by UV light to produce hydroxyl molecules (OH-, one oxygen atom and one hydrogen atom, bound together and negatively charged). Because they’re charged, or ionized, the hydroxyls are highly reactive, and they rapidly combine with nearby materials. If they encounter a hydrogen atom, they combine to produce water (H2O). If they encounter other substances, including VOCs and airborne particles, they may react with and break up or otherwise alter them. As such, both PECO and PCO are completely distinct from HEPA filtration, which physically captures most airborne particles but does not capture VOCs or other molecular-scale pollutants. The Molekule also employs a physical prefilter to capture some particulates.
We conducted the same tests on the Molekule as we did on the HEPA-filtration competitors, taking baseline readings, burning five matches to create a mass of fine airborne particulates, and then measuring the reduction in those particulates over the course of 30 minutes on all three of the machine’s “speed” settings (called Silent, Auto, and Boost, akin to low, medium, and high). We also tested the Molekule on its Dark setting, in which its light-based, primary PECO purification system is shut off and only its physical pre-filter is in use; we set the airflow to Auto on the Dark tests.
We conducted each of our tests twice. First, we tested the Molekule just as we tested the HEPA purifiers: Using the ambient air conditions in the room, plus whatever particulates the burned matches added at the outset, we ran it on the four settings and recorded the particulate reduction after a half hour. But unlike the HEPA purifiers, all of which proved capable of deeply cleaning the air, the Molekule left the air heavily loaded with particulates on every setting. So we ran a second round of tests on the Molekule with the starting conditions as clean as possible. We achieved this by running the powerful Medify MA-112 purifieron high for 15 minutes before each test, reducing the particles per cubic foot from millions to less than 10,000. That’s very, very clean air. In describing test results, the word ambient means that we started purifying the air as we found it—the usual process—and the word cleanmeans we brought in the Medify to reset the conditions for the Molekule’s next test. To be clear, no other machine received this handicap.
Let’s start with the Molekule’s strongest performance. On its Boost setting—when it was moving the maximum amount of air it could—the Molekule reduced 0.3-micron particulates by 61.3 percent under ambient starting conditions and 57.0 percent in clean starting conditions.
In both cases those numbers were worse than what our budget pick for small rooms, produced on its mediumsetting with new filters: 70.7 percent removal.
On Auto (akin to medium), the Molekule performed worse, reducing 0.3-micron particulates by just 18.0 percent (ambient) and 26.4 percent (clean). On Silent, it performed worse yet, reducing 0.3-micron particulates by 6.5 percent (ambient) and 7.2 percent (clean). And on Dark plus Auto, with its primary PECO purification system shut off and its fan on the “medium” setting, it reduced them by 21.3 percent (ambient) and 18.0 percent (clean). Interestingly, those numbers closely mirror our results on the Auto setting with the PECO system turned on, suggesting the possibility that on its Auto setting the Molekule mostly relies on its physical pre-filter, not its proprietary PECO mechanism, to eliminate particulates.
At a certain point, these results look worse than what you see with no purifier running at all. In a pair of baseline background tests, which we use as a control measure, 0.3-micron particulate levels dropped by 13.9 and 15.3 percent on their own. That’s due to settling, in which particles fall to a room’s surfaces; agglomeration, in which two or more particles naturally combine to form a single particle; and ambient ventilation, which we standardized for all our tests. One possible reason the Molekule performed worse than background reduction is that its fan stirred up the air and kept particles from settling.
Lastly, on top of its weak performance and high cost, we found the Molekule app persistently laggy. And it’s always-on blue glow—which indicates when its primary PECO filter is in operation—can disrupt sleep. (You can’t physically block the glow with a coin or tape, because doing so would block the Molekule’s delivery of air.)
Throughout its promotional literature, Molekule claims its purifier “destroys” particulates in the air, and that it also destroys pollutants (such as viruses and VOCs) that are smaller than what HEPA filters can catch. We can’t test whether the machine is destroying things or not. But that doesn’t really matter. Molekule claims it can get them all, and whether a machine captures or destroys particulates, the idea is to remove them somehow. Our measurements prove there are far better tools for that job than the Molekule.
This is an excerpt directly from Wirecutter, A New York Times Company. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Surgically Clean Air Inc. or any of its affiliates.
- * CFM - cubic feet per minute - the amount of air that passes through the system every minute.
- ** Dyson's quoted CFM is higher, however the amount that physically goes through the filters is only 63 cfm on high - the rest is a result of their 'multiplier' effect for the fan.
- All Surgically Clean Air filters meet the guidelines for General Surgery applications. as per ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 52.2-2007. ANSI (American Nation Standards Institute) is a non-profit, voluntary organization that develops its guidelines and procedures, based on a national consensus process. ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, is a nonprofit organization that develops and publishes standards for the heating, ventilating and air conditioning industry. Headquartered in Atlanta, United States, ASHRAE is an international society with over 50,000 members.
- *** Molekule filters DO NOT meet the guidelines for General Surgery applications.