The Bluestar bus, operated by Go-Ahead, is fitted with a specially designed filter that removes ultrafine particles from the air and traps them as the bus moves through streets. The filter then allows the bus to blow out more pure air so that the air behind it is cleaner than that in front of it.
Go-Ahead has chosen Southampton to pioneer the prototype as earlier this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that the city is at its limit of unsafe air pollution.
"We want this pilot to show that buses should be looked at as not just the solution to congestion in cities, but also as a solution to the air quality problem," said Go-Ahead's Chief Executive, David Brown. "As the bus removes the ultrafine particles from the air as it travels along the route, it is helping solve the air quality problems of the city. This bus will clean the air on its route 1.7 times a year to a height of 10 metres - imagine the change we could make to air quality if all buses had this technology."
The air filter is manufactured by Pall Aerospace. It has been calculated that if all Bluestar buses were fitted with this technology it would clean the air in the Southampton area 16 times a year to a height on 10 metres.
The associated health problems of outdoor air pollution are linked to 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide, according to the WHO. In the UK, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) estimates that particulate air pollution reduces the life expectancy of residents by six months on average.
"Our team is proud of the results on the filtering bus project, and we are excited to see it in action with our partner Go-Ahead," said Pall Aerospace's Senior Director of Marketing Steve Simpson. "We used our knowledge of aerospace filtration to design and build a product that will help clean the air of the cities in which we live by removing the particulates that are a major component of air pollution."
The filter, which is fitted onto the roof of the bus, is made in an engine barrier-type filter construction which is designed for particle removal efficiency of 99.5 percent without any impact on the passenger or travel experience.