Usheco Inc., a plastics processor in upstate New York, worked with a retired NASA researcher to develop the Plant Air Purifier, houseplant in a special planter that cleans indoor air.
Usheco is thermoforming the planter from ABS sheet. The product is offered in a single size. But President Wayne Shaeffer said Usheco plans to injection mold the planter, to meet higher-volume demand and make the product in different sizes.
The planter includes an electric fan, ventilation system and water reservoir. It plugs into a wall outlet. The fan pulls unhealthful indoor air into the base, where it passes through a specially treated ceramic growing material, used instead of soil. Fresh air gets released.
It actually takes the toxins in the air and consumes them eats them for lunch and serves as energy for the plant, Shaeffer said.
Contaminants are absorbed in naturally occurring microbes on the plant's roots. There are no filters to replace.
Usheco makes the completed product. The plant is sold separately.
The company is marketing the Plant Air Purifier for homes, offices, schools, hospitals, retail stores and municipal buildings.
B.C. Wolverton, who runs Wolverton Environmental Services Inc. in Picayune, Miss., thought up the Purifier.
As a pioneer in the field known as phytoremediation, or using plants to clean up the environment, Wolverton conducted more than 30 years of research for the U.S. military and NASA, where he developed a closed ecological life-support system for long-term life in outer space. Indoor plants can treat air and waste.
Stale office air is one thing. But in September, Wolverton authored a study on using plant-based air filters for removing volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde from temporary-housing trailers used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.