Tesla released today more information about its HEPA air filter system to back its “Bioweapon Defense Mode” claim. The company details its testing process and how it came to implement a system inspired by the air filtration systems used in hospitals, clean rooms, and the space industry.
Update: CEO Elon Musk of course Tweeted some background on the story giving credit for the idea to Alphabet CEO Larry Page.
The automaker describes some of the tests the system had to go through:
“The air filtration system was put to the test in real-world environments from California freeways during rush hour, to smelly marshes, landfills, and cow pastures in the central valley of California, to major cities in China. We wanted to ensure that it captured fine particulate matter and gaseous pollutants, as well as bacteria, viruses, pollen and mold spores.
We then decided to take things a step further and test the complete system as we would on the road, but in an environment where we could precisely control and carefully monitor atmospheric conditions. A Model X was placed in a large bubble contaminated with extreme levels of pollution (1,000 µg/m3 of PM2.5 vs. the EPA’s “good” air quality index limit of 12 µg/m3). We then closed the falcon doors and activated Bioweapon Defense Mode.”
The picture above is the “large bubble” Tesla is referring to. The company first released the HEPA air filter in the Model X last year, and it started offering the same system in the upgraded Model S last month.
The graph shows the evolution in pollution levels inside the vehicle and inside the bubble following the activation of the “Bioweapon Defense Mode”.
“Not only did the vehicle system completely scrub the cabin air, but in the ensuing minutes, it began to vacuum the air outside the car as well, reducing PM2.5 levels by 40%. In other words, Bioweapon Defense Mode is not a marketing statement, it is real. You can literally survive a military grade bio attack by sitting in your car.”
Tesla added that it plans to keep improving the filters, which are easily replaceable, hinting at possible retrofits with even better air filtration in the future.