Renfe awards the Green Transport challenge to startup Urban Air Purifier

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  • Renfe’s startup accelerator has opened a call to respond to the Green Transport challenge.
  • The winning startup, Urban Air Purifier, has the opportunity to win a contract of up to one million euros for the deployment of its project.

Sustainable mobility is once again at the center of the debate. And that is good news. Making transportation more environmentally friendly is a demand of many citizens and governments. Therefore, Renfe, in order to achieve safer spaces for its users and in its commitment to reduce the carbon footprint and the impact of the railway sector, has chosen the startup Urban Air Purifier as the winner of the Green Transport challenge of the V TrenLab Call. Endowed with 50,000 euros for the development of its pilot, this project reinforces Renfe’s leadership in sustainability, in line with the strategic plan for the integration of new systems that contribute to the energy transition for passenger trains.

Urban Air Purifier, a Barcelona-based company, already has a portfolio of more than 100 customers in 7 countries and a volume of installations exceeding 400 units. The winning startup seeks to position itself as a world leader in solving environmental air problems, especially in densely populated urban areas. Urban Air Purifier’s innovative technology, patented and certified by independent national laboratories and developed and manufactured in Spain, is based on a powerful suction system that significantly improves air quality in stations and on platforms, making travel more pleasant and healthy for passengers and more sustainable for the environment.

The key to Urban Air Purifier is the simple installation of devices the size of a vending machine that offer a high level of air purification efficiency and improved energy efficiency, a key factor in promoting the rail sector as a clean alternative in transportation. And this startup does so thanks to fluid dynamics that powerfully sucks in and captures particles suspended in the air as a result of friction from catenary, wheels, brakes or polluting gases. Once treated by the system in the different stages of filtration and purification, the air is propelled at high pressure, reaching a distance of 25 to 40 meters, completely renewing the air on platforms, lobbies and interchangers and creating a corridor of clean air in areas of great influence of passengers and Renfe employees.

Each of these devices, which have a digital screen that projects content and displays real-time air quality data, clean an amount of air equivalent to 1,100 trees. In addition, its sensors allow for the identification of air quality at all times, which makes it possible to increase or decrease the power of the fans, contributing in a positive and differential way to reducing the environmental impact and strengthening the railway sector as one of the healthiest and most sustainable forms of transportation.


A greener alternative, a booming market

The consolidation of the train as an alternative means of transport to combat climate change is a reality. In addition to the comfort and all the advantages of traveling by train, it stands out as the most sustainable means of transport according to a study by the European Environment Agency, which revealed that trains account for only 0.1% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union. The evidence indicates that the most environmentally friendly future for travel is on land. And on rails. At Renfe, most of the trains in circulation, destined for both passenger and freight transport, operate on 100% electricity from renewable sources, with low energy consumption. This fact is especially relevant, as it prevents more than 5.7 million tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere, equivalent to the domestic consumption of 15 million inhabitants.

Renfe is currently the leading passenger transport company with the lowest emissions in Spain, but it continues to work towards achieving greener rail transport. Therefore, new projects such as Urban Air Purifier are being sought to help Renfe become a more inclusive, sustainable and safe transport system through solutions that purify and clean the air in underground commuter stations, directly contributing to improving the well-being of its users and the health of the planet.

According to the WHO, air pollution is one of the greatest environmental health risks, being a major concern for people living in cities with high levels of air pollution, where an estimated 6.7 million premature deaths occur each year from this cause. Therefore, it is vital to take action on this.

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