‘I wanted to do my part’

A 14-year old boy from Ontario, Canada is helping his community as COVID-19 figures continue to rise in many countries.

Shiven Taneja didn’t spend his Christmas break playing video games or binge-watching TV shows like most of his pals. Even though he could certainly do those, he found something else worth investing his time in—building air purification boxes.

“Anxiety levels were rising again, and over my winter break, I had the time. So I felt like, why not just do it?” the teen said in an interview with The Current‘s Matt Galloway.

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The engineer-aspired got to work and created CorsiRosenthal boxes. These devices were developed by Dr. Richard Corsi and Jim Rosenthal, air filtration experts.

Some experts credit Kris Ray (air quality program manager at the Confederated Tribes of the Colville reservation located in northeastern Washington) for creating similar units in 2019.

Shiven Taneja building an air purification box with two kids
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Taneja posted a tweet offering to build boxes for others on Boxing Day. He said he expected a few people to order and “maybe 100 likes at most,” but the teen got so much more.

Taneja’s post went viral, and he has since made around 20 air purification boxes for neighbors, local seniors, and a fencing studio.

He initially intended to build a unit for his family. However, he realized that others could benefit from it, especially the elderly.

“I decided, well, getting the materials [and] actually building it might be hard for elderly people, so I decided I would build it for them,” Taneja said.

An air purification box with Spider-Man stickers
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Taneja charged $150 per unit, which includes the cost of materials. He estimates that it takes him between one and two hours to complete one unit, but the process is very simple.

“The older you are, the harder it is — because you have to continuously bend down and sit,” he explained. “But for me, it’s around two or three on a scale of 10.”

Taneja has always had an interest in engineering. In the past, Taneja has worked with motors and 3D printers. He was able make homemade air purifiers for the first time, and he was up to the challenge.

“I wanted to do my part, despite just being 14,” he said.

An air purification box built by Shiven Taneja
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Taneja’s air purification boxes are made of four 3M 1900 rated air filters and an 20-inch fan. He tapes the filters together to form a box shape, then attaches the fan to the top.

He explained the mechanism behind it: “The fan is blowing up and sucking air through the filters. Any particles are removed as the air is pulled through filters. [that could be] carrying the virus.”

Although it’s unclear how many coronavirus particles are filtered out by these boxes, a case study done by the University of California, Davis’s Western Cooling Efficiency Center researchers says they could be helpful.

Shiven Taneja delivering air purification boxes to customers
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“The reason there are four filters in a box is that gives you a lot of surface area — and that helps with the pressure drop,” says Jeffrey Siegel, an engineering professor at the University of Toronto and a ventilation expert. “So that fan is able to move more air than it could when it’s just the single filter.”

Taneja doesn’t care about the attention he has received for his work. What matters most is the reception he receives from people who have purchased one to show that they believe and support him.

“It feels really good, especially when I deliver a box. Knowing that something I created can help someone, it’s a really good feeling,” he said.

Shiven Taneja deserves credit for his willingness to do his part. Hopefully, this teenager’s story will inspire more people to share his community spirit.

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