Oswego East High School InvenTeam

Small-scale, Automated Air Filtration System
Their Problem

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a shocking 50% of US schools have poor air quality. Poor indoor air quality leads to coughing, eye irritation, headaches, and asthma aggravation. These consequences negatively impact school attendance, with even as light decline in indoor air quality causing a significant increase in school absences the following day; students with asthma are especially prone to indoor air quality-related absences, making asthma the leading cause of school non-attendance. Air quality in schools has also been shown to impact students’ academic performance and is linked with heightened mental health issues such as depression. The Oswego East High School InvenTeam seeks to address poor air quality in 

In the News: Oswego East High School InvenTeam® Claims Patent Pending

The team worked with two local firms to file a provisional patent application for their invention, Algae Air

A team of high school inventors from Oswego East High School in Oswego, Illinois recently completed their year as a Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam. Their journey culminated at EurekaFest® the end-of-year event for this year’s InvenTeams grant initiative grantees on campus of MIT.

Their invention, Algae Air is an indoor air purification device that utilizes algae. The team was inspired by the significant air quality challenges faced by schools, the limited space for HVAC upgrades, and high population densities. The technological device they invented outperforms trees in terms of efficiency in converting airborne pollutants into oxygen and a useful algae biomass byproduct.

Additionally, the team developed an accompanying app that enables users to effortlessly access and review Algae Air’s data. The app sends timely maintenance alerts to ensure optimal performance of the device. Through rigorous testing, the team determined that their half-scale Algae Air prototype would be able to decrease CO2 levels by a substantial 200 ppm (parts per million) in a classroom over one month.

The Oswego East InvenTeam worked with two intellectual property law firms, identified through the IL IPA, that provided pro bono support for the team to apply for a provisional patent. Paul Holly from Holly Patent Law LLC, Manav Das, a partner at McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff LLP (MBHB), and Connor J. Toth, a summer associate at MBHB, worked extensively with the InvenTeam at the end of the grant year on the provisional patent application. The team aspires to continue working on their invention and apply for a non-provisional utility patent within this next year.

This InvenTeam drawing support from two IP law firms in the Chicago area marks another first in a year full of exciting firsts for Lemelson-MIT’s InvenTeam grant initiative. By the end the 2022-2023 grant year, eight of the 10 InvenTeams could claim “Patent Pending.” Two of the teams have already applied for non-provisional patents. 

Please join us in wishing the Oswego East High School InvenTeam the best of luck as they continue their invention journey and seek a non-provisional utility patent for Algae Air. Many thanks to Holly Patent Law and MBHB for their guidance and support.

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The Oswego East High School InvenTeam at the EurekaFest showcase on June 14, 2023.