A startup believes its purifying technique can outperform traditional HEPA filtration across the board. Molekule's eponymous air purifier uses a process called photoelectrochemical oxidation (PECO) to remove not only pollutants and allergens (i.e. purifying), but also viruses and bacteria (i.e. disinfecting). Rather than catching harmful things in a mesh (the HEPA method), PECO destroys them by using light to excite a nano-coated filter and start a catalytic oxidation reaction. The reaction breaks compounds down on a molecular level, turning them into their (harmless) base elements. Because it doesn't need to "catch" particles, the PECO system can apparently remove particles 1,000 times smaller than HEPA's limit.

Although this is its first commercial application, PECO is not new to science. The company's founders are co-inventors of the tech, and both their and independent research has shown that it can be effective at both purifying and disinfecting air. One University of Minnesota Particle Calibration Laboratory study (highlighted by Molekule) showed PECO outperforming HEPA filtration in the removal of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and mold. A second study, performed by the University of South Florida Clean Energy Research Center confirmed the VOC finding under both lab and changing environmental conditions. Both institutes also showed PECO was specifically effective against acetone and toluene (two VOCs), E. coli, Staph and A. niger (black mold).

While the underlying technology seems sound, at least in the limited studies that have taken place, more independent studies are needed to gauge Molekule's efficacy in real-world situations. It should also be noted that Molekule's founder, Dr. Yogi Goswami, is a director at the University of South Florida Clean Energy Research Center, and PECO's co-inventor. As such, he's both an expert in the field and an obvious believer in the technology.

As for the device itself, it's an attractive enough object: A silver metal cylinder with an air intake at the bottom and exhaust at the top. Beyond that, the only points of note are a brown leather handle and a circular touchscreen on top. It'll link up with a companion app to allow for remote control and filter management.

Hopefully the scientific community will have more time to analyze Molekule's claims before the device launches next year at $799. If you're already convinced, though, you can pre-order from today at the reduced price of $499, which also gets you the guarantee of being among the first to receive a unit.

Like all air purifiers, there will be ongoing costs in the form of replacement filters. Rather than buying individual filters as and when you need them, you'll pay $99 per year and be automatically mailed replacements once the unit detects it's necessary. That'll cover pre-filters (a basic mesh that picks up large pieces of dust etc.) that need replacing every three months or so, and the PECO nanofilter that lasts around a year.