Taipei, Taiwan


Alban Yau, Chia-Hung Hung, Hung Jen Lin, Hao-Nien Chen, Wei-Ting Wu, Ching-Yuen Liu, Tsung-Yi Lin


Refish developed a device which can actively remove particulate matter from the air, and can be easily mounted anywhere. They applied lessons from the filtering functions of African violet leaves and the oral cavities of fish to create an energy-efficient device that cleans the air and improves health.

1. What is the problem you’re trying to solve and how does your design help?

In recent decades, air pollution has worsened, harming billions of people’s health and causing huge economic losses. Our team is trying to design a device which can actively collect atmospheric particulate matter everywhere, improving outdoor air quality.

2. How did you apply lessons from living organisms to your design and what difference did that make?

We found that some leaves have trichomes on their surface which can trap particulate matter when it attaches to the leaves’ surface. When rain hits the leaves, the particulate matter dissolves and become a solvent, which is partly absorbed by stomata to be used by the plant. In filter feeding fish, their gill arch has a diverse structure that prevents particles from going out through the gill, and instead, flow into their throat. These two cases helped us to design a filter that is able to trap particulate matter without getting blocked.

3. What makes your design different than previous or current approaches to the problem you’re trying to solve?

Currently, there is only one smog cleaning tower actually working in the world, which is in Xi’an, China, but due to its size and price, it’s not accessible to the average person. Our device is going to be available in three sizes, including small and medium-sized versions that are affordable and easy to mount anywhere. In addition, our filter is more efficient than current particulate-capturing devices because the design ensures that particulates won’t accumulate and block the filter.

Refish addresses Sustainable Development Goals: Good Health and Well-Being (#3), Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure (#9), Sustainable Cities and Communities (#11), Responsible Consumption and Production (#12), and Climate Action (#13).