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Research and innovation
News article30 October 2018ViennaDirectorate-General for Research and Innovation2 min read

Innovative air filter wins €3 million Horizon Prize for the best solution to improve air quality in cities

A ceramic honeycomb air filter developed by a research team from Corning SAS, France, has won the EU Horizon Prize on Materials for Clean Air. The European Commission announced the winner of the €3 million award, funded under the EU’s research and innovation programme, today.

Led by Dr Jean-Jacques Theron, the team developed a filter that can remove up to 95% of fine particulate matter from the air and maintain it below the World Health Organisation air quality guidelines. Their invention can reduce the concentration of particulate matter in cities, both indoors and outdoors. For indoor treatment, the solution can be combined with existing air ventilation systems. Outdoors, a modular kiosk-sized system can be placed in highly polluted areas, or close to schools or hospitals.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation said:

In many European cities, air pollution is a major concern for citizens because it affects their health and causes environmental problems. The innovative solution developed by Dr Theron and his team will contribute to decrease the concentration of particulate matter particularly in highly contaminated urban areas.

The technology has a proven ability to improve the air quality in urban areas. Jean-Eric Paquet, Director-General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission, presented the award at the Industrial Technologies Conference in Vienna.


Particulate matter is the air pollutant that has the most severe impact on health. Around 90% of city dwellers in Europe are exposed to particulate matter levels that are above the World Health Organization's air quality guidelines. This exposure can lead to premature death, birth defects, asthma, lung cancer and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

The Horizon Prize on materials for clean air awards the contestant who has developed the most affordable, sustainable and innovative design-driven material solution that can reduce the concentration of particulate matter in urban areas. The Commission received 16 eligible applications from 12 countries. A panel of independent experts from universities and industry selected the winner after an on-site visit. The runner up was a proposal submitted by the University of Dublin, Ireland.

Horizon Prizes are 'challenge' prizes (also known as ‘inducement' prizes) offering a cash reward to whoever can most effectively meet a defined challenge. Horizon Prizes do not prescribe the methodology or any technical details, giving applicants total freedom to come up with the most promising and effective solution.

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Publication date
30 October 2018
Directorate-General for Research and Innovation