Think Air, established in 2021 and subsidiary of the group AROM AIR – industrial since 2013 in the field of manufacturing of spraying systems – is specialized in the design and manufacture of automated Indoor Air Quality systems to prevent pathogens as well as the improvement of the olfactory comfort for the large and semi open areas.
Interview with Ilyes Chakroun, CEO of Think Air.
Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?
Ilyes Chakroun: Since its creation, we have thought of creating a universal system that can be sold anywhere in the world in perfect synergy with the values of its founders “ Respect of Environment and save life”. From the first successful experience in the manufacture of mechanical spraying systems, we have chosen to maintain the production site in Tunisia, our native country. Tunisia is known by the richness of its workforce with prices cheaper than Europe or the USA and diversified skills and approved by multiple multinationals that have chosen it like Airbus. Thus, the quality products designed by Think Air are distributed all over Europe and the USA as a first phase of international development.
E.E: What’s the news about new products?
I.C: We use every day fragrance to feeling good, sanitizer for our health and pesticide for good quality of vegetables, but in the same time we send out in the atmosphere more than 43 billion tones of CO2 and every year more than 8 million persons die due to air pollution. Current air purifier in the market is not suitable for huge and semi out door spaces. More experience takes over in some airports and train station in the word to purify the air, but not issue, not result, because, these traditional systems are very heavy, high power consumption, very expensive and some time they help to spread airborne pathogen not to limit it due to their mechanical function.
In the other hand, traditional systems act slowly on pathogens and pollution. the best brand makes 5 minutes to purify the air, but in 5 minutes more people can be infected. So, we need new technology to save people. For this reason and after 2 years of research and development, we have patented and developed a new tech wave indoor air quality global system to prevent pathogens for huge and semi outdoor area in Real Time, named ZOLTAN.
Zoltan is an association between, first one, revolutionary chemical solution (with FDA and EPA certifications and can remove pathogens less than 3 minute) and artificial intelligence to send this liquid in the air with forth precision and adjustment. ZOLTAN, is equiped with multiple of sensors, like Indoor Air Quality sensors, camera for head count to adjust intensity and quantity if liquid and smart powerful fan with modulated head how suck the air to the IAQ sensors and send the liquid for more disadvantageous area where and when it need.
Zoltan is also connected to the central air conditioning system to act globally on impurities in the air such as particulate matter, as well as with environmental satellites such as ESA or NASA towards a global protection of the air quality of the building. Finally, the user of the site will have at his disposal a mobile and web application to visualize in real time the indoor air quality of the building and also serve as an alert in case of serious exceedance of the pollution levels.
With our new solution, we act clearly on large areas, where other systems have failed.
E.E: What are the ranges of products?
I.C: Large and semi-open spaces, such as airports, subway stations, malls, cinemas, theaters, are currently served by standard air purification systems that have failed to control the air quality in these locations. Because of this, the architecture of these places is specific and need a system that adapts to their specifications. For this reason, we have developed up to now 3 types of systems according to the surface of the place to treat and its architecture. The first one is for average surfaces of 450m², the second one for volumes of 1000m² and the third one for larger volumes that can reach 2000m². All these products have one thing in common, it is the collection of air data, analysis and action against possible infection or pollution, and all this in real time. On request, the customer can also subscribe to a yearly subscription to visualize monthly or weekly reports on the air quality of his site, to be used as a means of prevention and management.
E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?
I.C: After two years of research and development in our internal laboratory ZEE LAB, my team and I have succeeded in developing and patented the first prototype of the 100% automatic Zoltan machine. The official launch was in January 2020 at CES LAS VEGAS where we were present as an exhibitor at Eureka Parc. Before and after the global pandemic, the global air purifiers market has been valued at €11B in 2020 and is expected to grow considerably by 2026. The increasing adoption of air purifiers in non-residential buildings, including retail, office, institutional, healthcare, and healthcare facilities, will drive product demand for other sectors including airports, lobbies, museums, hotels, and restaurants that are increasingly crowded. For this reason, we have postponed the commercialization of our new system until early 2023. This time, we were decisive and propulsive to bring new options in the operating system, such as the addition of sensors for pathogen detection. However, we managed to present our products at the Tunisian pavilion DUBAI EXPO, where we equipped the Tunisian pavilion with the ZOLTAN system. We also advocate, this year, to carry out installations at the airport of Orly and a production site of electronic components for an area of 10000m ². This initiative phase was essential before entering the phase of mass production and our development on the international market where it is planned to sell more than 1082 by the year 2027 with a global turnover of 82 M Euro. Our geographical presence will be focused on the European market and the United States from Oregon where we have opened our first subsidiary called THINK AIR, INC.
E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?
I.C: We spend 90% of our time indoors, so IAQ is important. According to WHO, indoor air pollution is responsible for the deaths of 8.8 million people per year. WHO considers IAQ related to the health and comfort of building occupants, can be affected by pollution such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), odors, particulate matter (PM), physical chemicals, and biological factors, founded in high concentrations in the indoor air of non-industrial buildings. This has created a whole new wave of air purifiers, some of them with most attractive designs. However, this trend has not yet reached the market of huge or semi-outdoor spaces such as airports, stations, open big working areas movie theaters, shopping malls, conference centers, and other recreational facilities. These segments are not being served yet, while their need for air hygiene and comfort is even greater and, in case of pollutants present (i.e., virus) immediate action is needed or health and economic costs boost.
E.E: What products / solutions are you going to launch in the future?
I.C: We have extended our technology to the application of autonomous cars. The issue of protecting passengers from the risks of pollution and contamination inside or coming from outside is a challenge for the manufacturers of these cars. In the absence of a driver, the regulation of the air conditioning as well as the level of indoor air quality and comfort conditions for the passengers must be fully automatic and must be self-regulating in real time. For this reason, we thought of integrating the Zoltan system as an indispensable element. With its miniature version, the passengers will be informed in real time of the quality of the interior air, ensured by sensors placed in the four corners of the interior, the intensity and the quantity of liquid (solution of disinfection and treatment of the COV) will be adjusted automatically according to the indices, knowing that the liquids will be diffused via the system of air-conditioning of the car.
E.E: What is the impact of your innovation on the dynamic of the market?
I.C: The time that the producers of purifiers have failed for a long time to develop a purifier for large and semi-outdoor areas, this being not due to their inability to innovate but rather to the technical incapacity and limitation of the air purifiers, the ZOLTAN system with its new technology will find with ease to do it and even go further for very large areas up to 2000m². First of all on the social side, Zoltan has arrived just in time to save lives and ensure continuity, but on the economic side, Zoltan is a new industry that will also create new jobs, transfer know-how, help transfer to smart cities. With Zoltan, new avenues of research will be opened for the search of pathogens in time but also in space and study their behavior in front of the sprayed products. The model of non-toxic and non-chemical liquid spraying as used by Zoltan is unique in the world and will certainly open new lines of competition in the future.
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