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Technology Spotlight: Airbubbl by Airlabs

The enclosed cabins of your fleet might be more harmful to your drivers’ health than you realise. But there is a solution, as Alex Grant explains.

What is it?

A potential life-saver for urban fleets – Airbubbl is an in-car air purifier, claimed to be the only device on the market which can trap harmful gases and particulates from exhaust fumes which can pass through the cabin air filter.

Why should fleets be concerned?

According to research, with the windows closed, the air within cars, vans and lorries can contain up to 140% higher concentrations of harmful pollutants than the air outside.

Air pollution has, of course, become a hot topic recently and councils throughout the UK, furthered by high-profile court cases, clean air zone plans and the diesel emissions scandal. And the figures are startling for professional drivers. Independent research has shown London-based commuters travelling 74 minutes by car each day are breathing in pollutants equivalent to passive smoking 180 cigarettes per year. For professional drivers, such as couriers or taxi drivers, that rises to 980 cigarettes per year. In addition to long-term health risks such as cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, exposure to polluted air can reduce alertness and impair reaction times.

It’s largely a problem that fleet operators are unaware but theAirbubbl – the first consumer product developed by the British-Danish team at Airlabs, a company usually focused on cleaning air in large spaces – is designed to solve the issue.

Marc Ottolini, CEO of Airlabs, says: “Commercial drivers are forbidden from smoking in their vehicles because we all recognise the risks associated with smoking and passive smoking, yet we underestimate the damage that a vehicle filled with polluted air is having on the health of professional drivers. We want drivers and their employers to understand these risks and help guarantee a safe working environment.”

How does it work?

The device runs from a USB port or cigarette lighter, and straps onto the headrest of the passenger seat. Its dual fans draw in air from the cabin, passing through an activated nano carbon filter, which traps pollutants including nitrogen dioxide, ozone, fine particles and bacteria and odours. Filtered air is pushed out through vents at each end, directed at head height to occupants. According to Airlabs, it takes less than 12 minutes to clear 95% of pollutants from the cabin.

It’s so easy to install and remove, that the Airbubbl can be transferred between vehicles or even used on a desk. The only downside is that it always starts up in standby mode, so drivers either have to activate the fans using the button on the end of the device, or using a smartphone app. Both offer the ability to run a five-minute ‘boost’ mode at the start of a journey, and a log of how much air it has cleaned – data which could, the company says, be integrated into a fleet management dashboard with later versions of the software. Aside from forgetting to turn it on each time, it’s a totally unchallenging piece of technology and makes barely any noise while running.

Where can you buy one?

The Airbubbl costs £299.99, with replacement filters available for £40. To discuss commercial rates, contact Gareth Jones: gareth.jones@airlabs.com.

READER OFFER

The first 25 GBFE readers to purchase an Airbubbl can claim 15% off, using the code 15FW2018

Written by Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.

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