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Elon Musk to join IAQ revolution

The world’s richest man says a system to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) in homes is “on the future product list” for his electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla. 

In response to a Tweet from a Tesla shareholder who suffers from allergies exacerbated by poor IAQ, Elon Musk said he was considering adapting the HEPA filter technology already in use in some of his cars for the residential HVAC market. 

The UK’s Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) said the intervention of the highest profile business figure in the world could make “an enormous difference” to the development of technology and working practices for improving IAQ in both residential and commercial buildings. 

This is the second time Musk has publicly stated his interest in this area following the 2020 Tesla shareholder meeting when he said: “Oh, you mean home HVAC. That’s a pet project that I’d love to get going on — maybe we’ll start working on that next year.  

“I just think you could really make a way better home HVAC system that’s really quiet and super energy efficient, has a way better filter for particles, and works very reliably,” said Musk, who has also incorporated heat pump technology into Tesla’s Model Y vehicle. 

Kick ass

“I mean it’s tiny, it’s efficient, and it has to last for 15 years,” said Musk. “It has to work in all kinds of conditions from the coldest winter to the hottest summer. We have already done a massive amount of the work necessary for a really kick-ass home HVAC.” 

His ambition is to link the system to electric vehicles and develop a solution that is “a very compelling, super-efficient HVAC that…will know when you are coming home. The pack can communicate with the car and just really dial it into when you actually need cooling and heating. It would be great.” 

British ventilation contractor Nathan Wood said Musk’s intervention showed just how far the debate about IAQ, health, and energy efficiency had advanced in recent times. 

“We have been battling away in this market for years and making slow, steady progress – but the intervention of the world’s most famous and wealthy businessman should certainly take it up a notch or two,” said Wood, who is chair of BESA’s Health & Well-being in Buildings group. 

“He seems to understand the importance of driving the market for improved ventilation and IAQ alongside the push for net zero – and that really is key to its future success. This will definitely put the ‘Hype into HVAC’. Tweeting him now…”

26 July 2022

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