Nike-Air utilises the open, airy, felt-like properties of post-consumer footwear fibre 'Fluff' to trap & retain particulates that are increasingly present in ambient air. The objective is to improve air quality where the need is most acute and in doing so reduce the well-documented negative impacts on human health.
The capture function operates in a similar way to the tiny hairs on the surface of Silver Birch tree leaves, or the needles of Douglass fir trees. The Nike Grind fibre 'Fluff' combines the two functional benefits of these types of tree, because it has a particularly 'hairy' texture (like the Birch), but can also be configured to maximise surface area (like the fir).
Scientific studies have identified the efficacy of trees in capturing surprisingly large quantities of particulates in urban environments (3,184 million/m2), although it is not clear what happens to the particles during high winds, or if rain merely washes the particles down to road level, where they are wafted back into the air by passing vehicles.
The entangled structure of the fibre 'Fluff' lends itself to trapping the particles deep inside the material, however, suitable washing or other treatment when required, will enable the particles to be recovered in a controlled manner and potentially put to use. (See the Air Ink project in Bangalore)
In addition to the natural efficacy of the 'Fluff', when used outdoors, it will be possible to further engineer the application, in concert with existing structures, trees, etc to produce improved capture by manipulating airflow, slowing windspeed to aid deposition and ensuring that any runoff from the material is captured for recovery later.