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Cabin filter/ionizer effectiveness

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by docrice, Aug 21, 2014.

  1. docrice

    docrice Member

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    Has anyone driven through areas with terrible air quality or significant foul odors? How well does the cabin filter and/or new ionizer maintain a livable breathing compartment within the vehicle?

    For the SF Bay Area folks, I'm specifically interested in driving through areas like the Dumbarton bridge/84 where the salt ponds are and also along I-5 around Coalinga near Harris Ranch with the large feed lot and the awful stench of livestock byproducts.
     
  2. ken830

    ken830 Model S (Res#P12,447)

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    Those two areas are of concern to me too. I just drove down I5 last month and switched to recirculation mode well before getting to the cattle, but I could still smell the stench as if the vents were wide open to outside air. The service center tech said he didn't find anything wrong with the vent flap.
     
  3. PaulusdB

    PaulusdB Mayor Gnomus Vintage Limb

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  4. Science->Truth

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    I have a pre-ionizer Model S, but a loaner I used for a day when mine was in for service had an ionizer installed, unbeknownst to me. Without all the boring details, I have a lung condition making me *very* sensitive to air pollution of any kind. (I also have a PhD and am a professor in the health sciences). A short one hour driving the loaner caused me to be sicker than a dog for several days due to my lungs. I emailed the Tesla folks on how dangerous these things are. Ionizers generate ozone as a side effect. Ozone is bad for everyone's lungs, but outright dangerous to the many who have asthma or other lung conditions. I told them to implement a technical solution to *ensure* these ionizers were never turned on in any loaner vehicle in their fleet, but did not receive a response.

    Now I am seriously considering trading in my 2013 Model S for a new one, largely because of the new HEPA plus carbon-filter based air filtration system. Yet, I can't find any information on whether they are installing any electrostatic or other device or feature that may also as a side effect be introducing ozone into the passenger cabin. I sure hope and wish the new system introduces zero ozone or other pollutants (such as perfumes or scents), but I can't risk losing my original pre-ionizer Model S in the trade if the new one also ends up producing ozone or other chemicals. If any engineer from Tesla has definitive knowledge is reading this, or any other person who has knowledgeably disassembled the new "biodefense" air filtration system, please share that information.
     
  5. Dstrohl

    Dstrohl Member

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    For a review of this, take a look at:
    (and for some more info from the launch: )
     
  6. Science->Truth

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    Thanks for the fun videos. I've been watching them. Getting rid of a fruit smell is nice, but VOCs, ozone and PM 2.5 are the serious health risks. I know a combination of HEPA filters with charcoal canister filters are the state of the art, if implemented well. They can effectively filter key air pollutants: VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and PM (particulate matter). I am assuming the new Tesla filters do this well, but there are no independent test data. The reason I'd like to know is the experience with the ionizers they installed for a while. I believe they emitted ozone as a side effect, and that ozone was introduced into the passenger compartment, which created health problems for some. I give Tesla a good amount of credit. Instead of replying to me, maybe they just phased out that ionizer in response to such queries.

    Now I'm asking if there is anyone who knows with confidence whether the new system uses any kind of electrostatic feature, which many companies have in the past used to attract dust/improve particulate filtering, but which could put the new system also at risk of introducing ozone into the passenger compartment. Pure air flow filtering (with no electrostatic charge or similar feature) first through HEPA filters and then through charcoal canisters (often followed by a final filter just to catch any charcoal dust) is the the way to go. It looks like/sounds like that is what Tesla is doing, but I wonder if anyone knows for sure.
     
  7. freeewilly

    freeewilly Member

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    Half joking half serious. Since you're very sensitive about different type of filters, maybe you should borrow a loaner with the HEPA filter for a day to test it before you upgrade to the next MS.
     
  8. Wuggado?

    Wuggado? Member

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    With Bioweapon Defense Mode, we went from pano roof open and pretty strong skunk smell to pano roof closed and no foul smell in about 20 seconds. That's not the reason I bought the Premium package, but it earned it's keep that day.
     
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  9. Science->Truth

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    Thanks to the really helpful folks at the Tampa Sales and Service Center, I got more good info on the new air filter (biodefense) system available optionally on the Model S/X. According to them, the new HEPA filter is roughly 2 ft by 1 ft. It has a roughly ¾ inch deep HEPA filter directly fused to a roughly ¾ inch carbon filter, which is installed as a single piece in about the place where the old “microwave cubby” used to be in the earlier models. It does not have an ionizer or use electrostatic filters, according to them (which is really great since they can produce ozone, a known health risk/pollutant, esp hazardous for anyone already with asthma or other lung problems). Additionally, this new filter is a somewhat separate system/air pathway that is in addition to the normal air filter. Cars with “biodefense” HEPA filter still normally run the air through the regular air filter then into to passenger compartment, as any Model S has always done. Only when the biodefense button is turned on is the outside air re-directed through the HEPA filter. And when that mode is on, one cannot adjust the fan speed at all (fixed at high/level 9). That increases internal air pressure to make sure pollution doesn’t leak in through door cracks, etc. (And probably needs high force to be able to pull the air through the denser HEPA filter.) All in all, a major advance. My discussions with the Tesla team suggested the intention is not to run this system continuously—the fan stays on high, making some noise, and it seems the filter longevity is a concern. My impression is the system is designed for hitting that biodefense button when approaching a severely polluted area or cloud of smoke, and returning to regular circ modes right after driving through it. In that case, it’s important for folks with allergies to note that you are not getting HEPA filtered air most of the time. It will be useful to see in the future how long the HEPA filter will last when one runs the HEPA/biodefense mode continuously.
     

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