According the the EPA, air indoors can be 5 times more polluted than it is outside. There’s a solution to that now with Molekule’s invention of a new molecular air filter which very well could become a standard in every household in the next few years.
Alan: Welcome back I'm here today with Dillip Goswami he is the founder of the Molekule. Dillip welcome to today's show.
Dillip: Thank you for having me
Alan: So Dillip, for the listeners can you give us your background, how you got started, your education and what what led you into becoming the entrepreneur that you are today.
Dillip: We're company that's based on science and so unsurprisingly my story has a lot of science in it. Educationally I did my undergrad in electrical engineering from the University of Florida and the and then I did my masters as well in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. I was actually working on my PhD when I decided to jump out from Stanford and start the company. So that's that's over my about my background.
Alan: Was this project a white paper that you were doing for your PhD?
Dillip: No so it was a little bit unrelated, it's very much related to my personal life. I'm somebody who's suffers from asthma and allergies and it was very severe as I was growing up. It became a little bit better over time. As an adult I learned to adopt certain lifestyle changes to help manage it and I've been constantly on a regiment of drugs to help manage it, but fundamentally that asthma is triggered by different pollutants that are there in the air. When my body sees those triggers, it reacts. My father is actually an expert to scientists in the field of solar energy. He looked at that problem when I was growing up not just as a parent but also as a scientist and thought, 'something needs to be done to get rid of those pollutants that are causing all these problems'. And that started him on a kind of a 20 year journey of research. For the last 5 years of that journey I was actually working with them on that research as well. My PhD was on a somewhat related topic but nothing directly applicable. But that scientific training helped me to to be able to support them and help them come up with a site with new ideas and we finally got it to a point where it was really helping me and then we decided to form a company so we could go out and help other people.
Alan: With the advancements of technology and the burning of all the that the fossil fuels you can see in the air today- especially on an airplane flying over the country. There is a definite layer of film that we breath, but we're in the middle of the soup so we can't see what's going on.
Dillip: Yeah, it's an interesting thing because people tend to think of air pollution is an overseas problem, but according to the WHO 56 percent of cities in the developed world actually don't meet their guidelines for their standards for air quality. Then, to further compound the problem, according to the EPA, air is 5 times more polluted than air outdoors. We just concentrate pollution outside indoors and so that's the problem that I dealt with growing up and it was only until we started really getting into are researching it that we realized how big of a problem it was here and how that was exacerbating causing all these different symptoms. That that myself and so many others suffer from.
Alan: Why a new company why this new technology? One could say, Dillip why don't you just go to the down the store and buy an air filter? How do you differentiate what you're putting out now versus what's on the market?
Dillip: Our first solution was, 'let's try and get something off the shelf.' You don't want to have to go through all the work of inventing a new technology if you can just buy something that's gonna solve your problem. And the problem that we found was that the air filters that are out today, the standard is called the HEPA filter. And the HEPA filter was originally invented way back in the 1940's as part of the Manhattan Project. They were trying to capture radioactive dust. And the problem is the pollutants that that trigger all these different symptoms, they're microscopic they're very different from just dust. I mean if you think of think of for example a mold spore. Mold can often trigger allergies and a whole host of problems in people. And mold will just grow right onto a filter. It's not just mold but there's also bacteria, even when they get tapped on the filter, they can die and release endotoxins and then then there's some stuff that pass right through like viruses and gaseous chemicals known as VOCs. There's this whole range of different pollutants that the HEPA filter didn't deal with, and those were still causing the problem. So the answer is that we tried out a number of solutions and we realize that something fundamental had to be done in order to come up with something that can actually help our symptoms.
Alan: Welcome back I'm here today with Dillip Goswami, he is a founder of Molekule and Dillip, on the first segment we're talking about some of the areas that your purifier addresses such as the HEPA did not effectively take care mold and this this new purifier will be more thorough in taking the pollutants and the mold and the dust from the air. But you started this this project out the fact that you're trying to deal with some asthma issues in your personal life, but how do I know if I need a purifier. Really who is this product for?
Dillip: For some people it's a really easy answer if you have asthma or allergies of your this is definitely something that that we believe based on the evidence that we've seen so far. They can have a real impact on your life. But even beyond that if you look at how we as a society look at food and water. There was a time when we would eat anything or drink water as long as it was okay up, but we've come to a certain standard that we're accepting. When it comes to food we're looking for organic food when it comes to water we want to make sure that water is pure. We've seen I'm what happens in a place like Flint unfortunately when that water is not up to our standards right. But areas one field where we haven't really demanded to have clean air. The people of asthma and allergies are like the canaries in the coal mine because they can immediately tell you when something is wrong because they have direct symptoms. But all of us are affected, you breathe more air in terms of mass than you're eating food or drinking water. It has a has a really profound effect on our bodies and I think we're only now just waking up to realizing how much better it can be because now we've got new technologies to help make it better.
Alan: So when you're applying solar how is the application of solar into this system work?
Dillip: An analogy that we like to use to explain the system is actually a solar cell. When you have a solar cell, and light shines on that solar cell, we absorb the energy of light and extract it as electricity. When it comes to our device, we have that same principle. We have light that's shines on special nano coated surface. When that nano coated surface sees the light, instead of extracting the energy we actually use that energy to fuel a chemical reaction. That breaks down the pollutants. So the minute that a mold spore or a gaseous chemical like methane or toluene, when it comes into our device and it interacts with that nano coated surface, it's broken apart into its base elements. Stuff like CO2, water, stuff that's in your air already and safe to breath.
Alan: So when we look at the outdoor pollution today, you mentioned something about 56 percent of the major cities worldwide have extremely high levels [of pollution] today. I know in the US, within the last 8 years, they've shut down and number of coal mines with the concern of what it was affectively doing to the air, but how can outdoor pollution affect the quality of the air that's indoors?
Dillip: So what happens is that our air handling systems actually pull in air from the outdoors. In the outdoors what happens is that there's wind and pressure that help that pollution diffuse, but when it gets pulled once it gets pulled indoors there's nothing to help get rid of it. There's no wind, there's no atmosphere for to diffuse into. So everything gets concentrated indoors. And then the other piece is that we're we're bringing and other things that are polluting the indoors so for example any new building materials. Think about when you put in new carpet in a place, and that smell that you're getting. These are all chemicals that your things are being treated with that are then outgassing into your indoor atmosphere. We try to make really tight envelopes to make sure that we're energy efficient, but unfortunately that means that pollutants get trapped indoors.
Alan: So Dillip I need to take a quick break, I'm visiting here today with Dillip Goswami, he is the founder of molecule, we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I'm here today with Dillip Goswami, he is the founder of the Molekule it's a company that's and getting ready to launch the next generation of air purifiers. And that just for listeners right now, you're still in beta test right now?
Dillip: We've taken a few preorder in very limited batches because we're really focused on delivering a product with high quality and to deliver a product on time. We will be opening of another very small batch of pre orders sometime in the future of but stay tuned and check out our website, we have a wait list forming for orders and for the launch as well,
Alan: Perfect okay so moving forward then, you touched on the prior segment that your dad is a renowned scientist in the area of solar, and this technology is based on as solar using solar power to help to clean the molecules out there. Your dad was initially bringing this about to help solved the asthma problem that you're having?
Dillip: That's right, he looked at the problem and he looked at the existing solutions that are out there, so he's a scientist right, so he starts initially from the perspective of 'let me try and solve some of these problems and put the research out there and hope that people run with it'. And so he he did some initial research in this area, he came up with some new technologies and put them out there and he saw that the market was on was still kind of running with the same old commodity technology is because they saw that people are willing to buy them. And so that's when he decided that okay, he needs to go through this time and not just start the movement but your follow through, develop the real commercializable technology and then we took up that thread and and built it into a real product that can help you.
Alan: I understand that department of defense has some interest in this technology?
Dillip: We've received of funding in the past from both the department of defense and the EPA, and federal funding is as has always been helpful. It's very important for the foundational level to fund science and to get it from that point where it's just something that that's a very lab bench type technology to something that's really applicable in the real world. And so I'm so the Department of Defense was concerned about a number of things, ranging from having clean atmospheres for their personnel up to being able to protect them from chemical and biological threats. And so because our technology is agnostic in terms of the type of pollutant we can break down a range of chemical threats we can break biological threats such as anthrax and a number of other viruses, that's were the interest came on their side.
Alan: It's amazing thinking about how the HEPA filter came about with the Manhattan projects back in the 40's and here we are some 50 plus years later finally getting t the next level of technology. Will it work on radiation as well?
Dillip: No, radiation is not a major concern, for us, it's kind of the full spectrum of pollutants that you see in doors. Maybe one way we may be able to take it outdoors and solve some of the major problems that we have going on with the climate.
Alan: Dillip, your dad has quite a story to tell. Life wasn't easy in the early days was it?
Dillip: My father originally came as a refugee to India. His family used to live in a portion of pre-independence India that's now a part of Pakistan. They migrated from there to Dehli. Something that helped shape us as entrepreneurs later on is looking at any obstacle and not seeing it as a big deal, but another step in your journey. Having that type of perspective in your life helps prepare you for the types of struggles that you may see as an entrepreneur. With the understanding of what your forefathers had to endure- your challenges don't seem as difficult. There's always something you can do in these varying situations. Having that background has a key perspective for him, as well as something that he's passed on to his children in how it's shaped our lives as well.
Alan: The point that you just made is important- having that point B. It's not going to happen if you don't will it to happen. To overcome challenges and obstacles in life. Every entrepreneur, learn from both their successes and failures ignorer to overcome obstacles in life to get to the next level.
Dillip: There's also another piece to that- it's important to being open to learn the lesson when something isn't working, it's really difficult because as an entrepreneur you're so invested in the success of what you're doing so your emotions can sometimes cloud you from seeing that lesson. Having a little bit of perspective and being able to step back and say- this is not the toughest thing that I face, there's people out there facing tougher things, let me just calm down and let's approach this situation looking for a solution and being able to divorce yourself from that personal investment and look at it objectively certainly has helped me as an entrepreneur interns of learning those lessons when they need to be learned.
Alan: Dillip, how much square footage will your filter cover?
Dillip: The unit that we're bringing out covers 600 square feet. it's portable so you can also move it around to different spaces if you have a larger space.
Alan: Is it just confined to the unit o you take the filters out and wipe them clean?
Dillip: It's a self contained unit, it's continuously circulating the air in the space that it's in and has two filters: the nano filter which has our special technology which breaks down the pollutants, you don't have to wipe it clean because it's continuous breaking down the pollution that it's seeing, there's also a pre filter that gets rid of the gross dust part like the really large sized dust particles, things like pet hair. We have a number of beta testers that have many pets. That takes care of that part, and the really small particles we break up with the nano filter.
Alan: For more information on your company where can a person go?
Dillip: You go to molecule.com, that's molecule spelled with a "k" not with a "c"
Alan: Dillip thanks for being on today's show
Dillip: Thank you