Indoor Air Filtration to Improve Air Quality and Energy Consumption – Dr. Ahu Aydogan

by M’Niyah Lynn

Dr. Ahu Aydogan wants to make sure the air we’re breathing indoors, is fresh. Her research on air filtration uses hydroponic plants to clean indoor air. The air gets recycled in the building and the outdoor air intake is minimized. This has positive environmental effects that in the long run may lead to positive health effects for people.

Dr. Aydogan is currently an Associate Professor at The Bernard & Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at The City College of New York. She has recently been tenured after teaching at CCNY for seven years teaching courses related to construction technology and design. Aydogan got her Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Uludag University in 2001 and then received three Master’s degrees between 2005 and 2008, two from Izmir Institute of Technology in Turkey and one in Architectural Sciences from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). She started her research on indoor air filtration while studying for her Ph.D. in Architectural Sciences, which she obtained from the Center for Architectural Science and Ecology (CASE), RPI in 2012.

After graduating, Aydogan did postdoctoral research at CASE working with and collaborating with a company called Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), a global architectural, urban planning and engineering firm. With them, she worked on sustainability ideas to reduce the energy consumption profile of their buildings.

Her research proposes that air can be cleaned using plants and filtering media. The growing media is key for capturing toxins and the plants are key for their microorganisms, around the roots, that use the toxins as nutrients in a regeneration system.

Basically, what we’re doing is cleaning indoor air, filtering it, and recycling it back again to the indoor environment.

This is an important concept because most indoor air is not clean, even air that comes through an air conditioner. Indoor air gets more polluted through furniture, building materials, and humans.

The goal of her research is to create green filtering systems that replace the current synthetic filters used for heating and cooling air. Aydogan also noted that plants can be beneficial for people’s attitudes and well-being.

I want you to think about this as not just a wall you put plants on, but as a return filter for building HVAC systems to reduce energy.

In her work/research, Aydogan collaborates with researchers in both engineering and science; she has received external funding from MSRDC and internal funding from PSC-CUNY and CIRG-CUNY.

Aydogan hopes her research will make for a cleaner environment and improved health outcomes. She said her work will reduce CO2 emissions, reduce energy consumption by minimizing outdoor air intake and create fresh air in an indoor environment.

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