Honda has announced a new air filter that not only prevents viruses from entering the car but also destroys those that get in. Kurumaku, which literally means “car mask,” acts as a face mask, but in this case a car mask. It is placed on top of a normal vehicle filter and traps viral particles into microscopic spikes, reducing their shape and destroying them in the process. It uses a zinc phosphate conversion system, the same technology used by automakers to prevent rust.
According to Honda, the “mask” is an environmentally friendly product with less risk of spreading resistant viruses because it uses no chemicals. The automaker said the new Kurumaku filter can remove 99.8 percent of virus particles within 15 minutes of turning on the vehicle’s air recirculation system and 99.9 percent after 24 hours. “The mask will not remove viruses from hard surfaces such as door handles and stereo buttons. One Kurumaku filter has a lifespan of about a year or 15,000 km, whichever comes first.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, automakers have advertised their powerful air filtration systems as a means to protect drivers and passengers from infection. According to Chinese automaker Geely, the air filter on its Icon SUV, launched in February 2020, is comparable to an N95 mask and filters out 95 percent of particles larger than 0.3 microns. Other filters act as an antibacterial layer “to inactivate and kill the escaped virus,” using the same nano silver ion sterilization technology found in disinfectants.
But experts believe that it is “almost impossible” to completely isolate the cabin from unfiltered air. And even the best system will be useless as soon as a door or window is opened.
For now, the Kurumaku filter is only for the Honda N-Box Kei, priced at $64. But it will soon be available for other models as well.