We believe this project has acquired increased urgency due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Exposure to PM2.5 represents a significant medical precondition that increases the likelihood and severity of a viral lung disease such as COVID-19


The idea was somewhat accidental and was brought about by an environmental crisis of a different sort. We live in Willowbrook, Illinois. In Aug 2018, the ATSDR released a report that stated Willowbrook had some of the highest cancer risks in the nation due to air pollution. This controversy forced us to consider the nature of pollution from mobile sources, in particular its distributions on the road. We developed a system to capture it at the source and are excited to help mitigate this problem. 

What it does

Tractable is a program that removes particulate air pollution in areas of high population density. Our vehicle design filters very large volumes of fine particulate airborne dust and microplastics from the most polluted roadways in our cities. With our technology platform we can identify the locations of the highest concentrations of PM2.5 fine particulates and dispatch vehicles to those targeted locations to scrub the air before it dissipates from the roadways and into our communities.

How we built it

We are heavy vehicle designers and engineers; and considering highway pollution as a line source, our first instinct was to create a scrubber that drives along that line. We focus on particulates because they are the easiest to collect and also cause the most harm to human health.

Challenges we ran into

Designing and building a specialty vehicle can be cost prohibitive. We redesigned it as a trailer system and took out 90 % of the cost.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We applied to Common VC Accelerator/Solve School and we were accepted and are working with them. Also, we have pitched to the National Science Foundation and have been asked to submit a full proposal.

What we learned

PM2.5 Removal Rates and Scrubbing Efficiency. For our Chicago analysis model a scrubbing efficiency of 60% would reduce PM2.5 by 30% and equate to an equivalent reduction of over 3 million passenger cars or over 7,000 highly polluting heavy duty class 8 trucks in the Chicago Metro Area.Tractable appears to be the only available program that can accomplish such a large-scale reduction in PM2.5 exposure in the short or medium term. Tractable can help remove what is essentially a ubiquitous pre-existing condition from urban areas.

What's next for Tractable

We are continuing to build the proto-type and test/validate our results. After this is complete we will take it to market.

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