When Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano started oozing out lava in late June, many families in the Pahoa Village of Big Island were displaced. However, there is a silver lining to the natural disaster that disrupted the lives of the residents, incarcerated a house and ran over vegetation and a cemetery; it inspired a group of local students to deliberate on how to cope with the mess the lava made and led to the invention of air scrubber.
While the slow-moving lava flow from Kilauea Volcano makes for some spectacular images, the residents of Pahoa village has had to deal with the wreckage it left behind. Students from Pahoa's Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science have devised an air scrubber that pulls smog or vog from the air and neutralises its acidity.
Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that while government officials and scientists are still "on talks" about how to deal with the lava flow and its aftereffects, the air scrubber idea of a group of dozen students became a reality. In fact their innovative product went on sale on Monday, at the Pahoa ACE hardware store.
While a fully assembled scrubber is sold at $150, the component parts of the product go for $100. The sale of the assembled product would bring the school an additional $50, which goes to funding the future research of school's science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) wing.
Seventeen-year-old Logan Treaster, one of the inventors, whose friend had to move out of Puna two weeks ago because of the vog from Kilauea said, "It feels good to be able to help our community". Treaster had also complained about the terrible smell that emanated from the lava flow, which had compelled him and his friends to develop the air scrubber: "It smells like rotten eggs," he said. The scrubber dissipates this smell by neutralising the acidity in the ambient air.
"We teach giving back," said Eric Clause, Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science's STEM coordinator. "I also teach the kids, 'You can work the problem — or you can let the problem work you.'" The young scientists have three more lava-related ideas that are promising to be highly beneficial to the lava-hit areas of Hawaii.
Meanwhile, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense, the lava flow that incinerated a house in Big Island on Monday hasn't advanced since Saturday.