Improving Air Quality and
the Quality of Lives

At Corning, we’re always thinking ahead about how we can

make a difference to help the environment.

Through research and development, our engineers and scientists apply technology to address the day’s toughest challenges and enable better lives. Building on the progress we’ve achieved, our teams work to extend the latest advancements to help solve new problems — ones that we’re facing today and anticipate will continue to grow in the years ahead.


This spirit of innovation is what we called upon when we first began tackling the problem of automotive exhaust. With the implementation of the 1970 U.S. Clean Air Act, Corning emerged on the frontlines of emissions control innovation — setting the standard for catalytic converters worldwide and reducing billions of tons of pollutants from vehicles on the road.

We pioneered cellular ceramics to maximize emission control systems in both gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. Since 1970, the number of vehicles on U.S. roads has doubled, but dangerous air pollutants have decreased by more than 60%.

Our substrates and filters have made a huge impact on our world. Each Corning filter in operation removes 20 trillion soot particles from the air we breathe every second — to address particulate pollution challenges from vehicles. Looking to the future, we asked how do we build on the technology we developed for vehicles and now apply it more broadly to urban air treatment for maximum effect?


As with all our innovations, we started by identifying the problem — health risks associated with poor air quality. In a study by the Lancet Commission in 2015, particulate matter was listed as the cause of 3.8 million premature deaths, or 7 percent of deaths globally.

The result of human activity like industry, residential heating, transportation, and fires, particulate matter is defined as microscopic particles suspended in the air — many of which are hazardous. Particulate matter can include dust, smoke, aerosols, fumes, and liquid droplets. Easily inhaled by humans, they can lead to serious health issues like asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease.

Corning’s research, development, and engineering teams in the U.S., Europe, and China collaborated to develop a prototype to address this growing problem. Corning’s new technology – the Corning Air Purification System – reduces or maintains particulate matter levels below the World Health Organization guidelines. Building on our history of innovation, Corning’s Air Purification System funnels polluted air through our ceramic honeycomb filters that trap particulate matter, releasing clean air into the environment.

“These teams successfully evolved the mobile emissions particulate filter technology that we invented more than 40 years ago into a prototype that can be used for indoor air ventilation systems and large outdoor air treatment systems to help clean particulate matter from the air, even in urban areas where levels are highest,” said Dr. David Morse, Corning’s chief technology officer.

In recognition for its work, Corning received the European Commission's Horizon 2020 Materials for Clean Air Award for developing the Air Purification Filter — an innovative solution to help keep the air we breathe clean.

“This is a significant milestone and a tremendous honor,” Morse said. “The 3 million euros prize will help us build a full-size demonstration unit that we may install in Europe to help us accelerate our understanding of the European market, an important prerequisite to help us determine commercialization.”


We were also honored recently with the grand prize in the Seoul Global Challenge 2019 for the Corning Air Purification System. This year’s competition sought to identify innovative technologies to improve Seoul’s subway system, which serves an average of 7 million people daily.

Over 100 solutions from eight countries were submitted, with only ten finalists chosen to install their products across Seoul’s extensive subway system in early January 2020. All finalists were carefully evaluated based on their performance, effects, and economic feasibility. Corning’s Air Purification System rated the highest level of particulate matter reduction, providing an “ultra-clean” zone for passengers.

“This award demonstrates the effectiveness of our technology to reduce particulate matter in the air, even in sealed underground subway systems where it is especially difficult to control air quality,” said Haeng-Hee Lee, president and General Manager, Corning Korea Company Ltd. Based on this success, Seoul Metropolitan City and Metro are considering applying Corning’s Air Purification System in
11 stations this year.

Corning will use the approximately $450,000 grand prize to further develop its airborne particulate matter reduction technology. Once again, we seek to extend our advancements, as we consider where to apply them for greatest impact. We’ll continue to develop this technology in the future — working to help create better air, better health, and ultimately, better lives.