The Corsi-Rosenthal Box: The DIY Air Purification Wonderbox

CG Interpretation of a Corsi-Rosenthal box

The Corsi-Rosenthal Box: The DIY Air Purification Wonderbox

Table of Contents

How Duct Tape Can Make Air Quality Better

Duct tape is perhaps man’s greatest and most versatile invention. What can’t it fix? 

When it comes to home improvement, every homeowner knows to have a roll of duct tape lying around in the event that a quick fix is needed. But did you know that duct tape is one of the main ingredients in a modern DIY air purification system that can significantly increase air purification while cutting down on cost?

With forest fires becoming increasingly ubiquitous, and the smoke leftover causing greater environmental and health hazards across North America, effective household air filtration is becoming a must-have. 

The Corsi-Rosenthal box is a comparatively inexpensive wonderbox that was created by engineers Richard Corsi and Jim Rosenthal to meet the significant air filtration requirements of indoor space during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are many harmful viruses like COVID-19 that accumulate and circulate in the air. The increased demand for more efficient indoor filtration systems during the peak of the pandemic led many engineers to devise simple, efficient, and inexpensive alternatives to expensive industrial-quality air purification systems, like those used in hospitals and laboratories. 

What Corsi and Rosenthal devised is a simple system that uses many household gadgets and adhesives, including the aforementioned duct tape. It involves taking 4 MERV13-quality air filters – each of which can be bought for less than $100, and sometimes for as little as $13- and a simple box fan, like those found in most homes. You’ll also need scissors, a box cutter, some cardboard, and – yes – a roll of duct tape. 

As the instructions below indicate, piecing together a Corsi-Rosenthal box is a tidy bit of DIY engineering, but is easily within the realm of possibility for any homeowner. And the results are well worth it. You simply attach the four air filters in a three-sided box formation, using duct tape as the sealant. You then mount the box fan pointing upwards, and cut out a ‘shroud’ to place over the edges of the fan to mitigate sound and increase filtration efficiency. Place the box somewhere in the house where the smoke smell is most prevalent, and hook it up to an electrical outlet before turning the fan on conventionally. 

How to guide on building a Corsi-Rosenthal box.

Most particulate matter from wildfire smoke is measured at between 1 and 10 microns in size. High-efficiency, industrial-strength MERV air filters will be extremely effective at filtering this out – but so too will a Corsi-Rosenthal box. A study conducted by WIRED magazine in concert with the University of California-Davis showed that mounting a conventional Corsi-Rosenthal box on or in close proximity to a window during wildfire smoke episodes can reduce particulate matter by up to 75%. This is a game changer for homeowners, and particularly those who are most susceptible to respiratory difficulties caused by the wildfire smoke. 

The Corsi-Rosenthal box trend has really hit the mainstream during 2023 wildfire season, with a TIME magazine article and even a TikTok video that has been ‘liked’ by over 80,000 people showcasing the effectiveness of the DIY wonderbox. 

The cost effectiveness, safety, quiet run volume, and relatively-simple assembly process means that the Corsi-Rosenthal box is likely to increase in popularity in proportion to the increasing prevalence of wildfire smoke in urban areas. If you’re looking for advice on how to assemble one, Lightspark can help you get in touch with home contractors or HVAC experts who can ensure that this solution is the right one for your home’s unique needs. Contact us or sign up today for access to our extensive network of contractors and home improvement providers.

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