- Founders: Beate Stevens and Frans Harren
- Founded in: Nijmegen
- Employees: -
- Money raised: -
- Ultimate goal: -
Stir-frying vegetables in a wok, but also vacuuming or ironing. – Everything that involves heat and friction produces particulate matter. This means that particulate matter not only comes from exhaust fumes, industry or wood-burning heaters. The innovative particulate matter meter from AeroCount tells you what the situation is when it comes to particulate matter in your own home.
Particulate matter can cause all kinds of ailments and harmful health conditions, such as aggravation of cardiovascular or respiratory diseases. Virus particles also adhere to particulate matter. The higher the concentration of particulate matter, the easier the transmission of viruses. Something that we tend to be very rather wary of these days.
But how high is the concentration of particulate matter really in your own home? “Many people don’t have a clue,” says Beate Stevens (27), founder of AeroCount. That’s why, together with her fellow students, she came up with the idea for a particulate matter meter for in the home. She initially did this in 2014 for a research assignment for the Panorama Food and Health course at Radboud University Faculty of Science in Nijmegen. “It starts with making measurements and being aware of it. When is the concentration too high? Then you can come up with solutions for filtering particulate matter so that you can actually improve the air quality.”
From study to an actual product
After the research assignment, they were so enthusiastic that three students decided to work with their professor, Frans Harren, to extend the research further and come up with a business plan that would lead to the creation of a real product. “We wanted to develop an affordable device that people could easily use in their homes or gardens,” Stevens explains. While still at university, they looked into the technical and economic feasibility of designing this type of particulate meter. The company AeroCount was subsequently founded in 2019.
A high particulate matter concentration creates poor air quality. Too high a concentration of particulate matter in your home? Stevens: “You would then think: open the windows. Except when the particulate matter concentration outdoors is higher than indoors, for example, because of pollen or exhaust fumes when there is not much wind. Then it’s better to leave the windows closed. So it’s wise to measure the concentration of particulate matter in several places.”
Over the course of two years, AeroCount developed a handy particulate meter which has been on the market for several months now. Consumers can hang the small unit indoors as well as outdoors. In the meantime, Stevens and her colleagues are doing plenty of research into what to do next. “At present, we can measure the concentration levels, but it is, of course, even better if you can do something about it. There are several filter systems on the market already. But we are in the process of working on a new, unique system,” says Stevens. “The prototype is ready and it works.”
AeroCount won the Jan Terlouw Innovation Prize 2020 last year. This award is intended for sustainable and innovative companies as an incentive, and geared towards start-ups and small businesses in particular. The variety of doing experiments in the lab to measure and filter particulate matter, combined with designing new products, is what appeals to Stevens. “It’s a hobby that I’m working on pretty much night and day these days. That’s the ultimate dream of a lot of students who have a great idea.”