Tesla’s HEPA Filter and “Bioweapon Defense Mode” Protects Against Extreme Pollution

July 20, 2016 3 min read

Tesla’s HEPA Filter and “Bioweapon Defense Mode” Protects Against Extreme Pollution


In a blog post on May 2nd of this year, Tesla unveiled their advanced HEPA filtration system dubbed “Bioweapon Defense Mode” during a rigorous test, and it is fairly ingenious both in terms of practical application and for marketing purposes.

The air conditioning system in both the Model S and Model X Suv utilizes three modes:  outside circulating air, recycled recirculating air from inside the cabin, and the “bioweapon defense mode” (actual name), which can be toggled between the three by the panic button (not actual name) located on the dashboard.

The difference between recirculating air mode and bioweapon defense mode is in BDM, the outside air is shut off and the fan speed goes up to 11 (in a 1 - 10 fan speed system), which creates enough positive cabin pressure to keep nearly all outside air from coming in.  Even in recirculating air mode, some fresh air is allowed in.  You wouldn’t want drivers passing out from lack of oxygen, even if the autopilot function is engaged, would you?  The Pokemon Go zombie drivers are bad enough.

What Is A HEPA Filter?

Tesla HEPA Filter

HEPA stands for “high efficiency particulate arrestance” or “high efficiency particulate air” and must pass certain standards of efficiency set forth by the United States Department of Energy.  In order for a filter to qualify for HEPA status, it must remove 99.7% of particulates that are 0.3 micrometers in diameter.

Being this fine of a filter, it can catch particle pollution, smoke, dust, mites, pollen, most bacteria, and some viruses; and understandably are used in places like doctor’s offices and hospitals, commercial aircraft, some vacuum cleaners, and a few luxury cars.

Tesla’s Bioweapon Defense Mode Isn’t Just For Terror Events

World Health Organization Air Pollution Life Expectancy

During its blog post a few months ago, Tesla cited the World Health Organization’s labeling of air pollution as “the world’s largest single environmental health risk”, which contributes to an estimated more than 3,000,000 deaths per year.

With chronically polluted cities such as Los Angeles, Mexico City, Naples, New York, Frankfurt, and every major city in China, Tesla’s air filtration system could be used frequently to reduce the amount of contaminates its drivers breathe in, literally adding months to their lives, according to WHO.

The Environmental Protection Agency considers good quality air to have very little PM2.5, or particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.  It requires less than a 12 millionth of a gram per cubic meter of air.  But in LA, you’re looking at 20 millionths of a gram per, and in Beijing it’s a whopping 56 millionths per cubic meter of air, and this reduces life expectancy of a person living in Beijing by 23 months!


Tesla’s Test

Tesla HEPA Air Filtration Test Results 

In order to precisely control atmospheric conditions, a Model X was placed inside a large plastic bubble which contained dangerously high levels of pollution.  Instead of using Beijing's scary 56 millionths, they went with 1000 millionths of a gram per cubic meter of air!

Two interns were ordered to sit inside the vehicle (OK, we don’t actually KNOW if the two “test dummies” mentioned in the blog were interns or were ordered to sit inside, but it makes for a better tale.), the doors were closed, and the Bioweapon Defense Mode was engaged.

Within two minutes, the filtration system had scrubbed the air inside the vehicle so substantially that their instruments could not detect any pollution whatsoever and the “volunteers” were able to remove their gas masks and breathe fresh air while inside the bubble of death.

Tesla HEPA Filtration System Test Bubble

They also go on to say they will improve “the micro-geometry and chemical passivation defenses in the primary and secondary filters, which are easily replaceable, so this will get better the longer you own your car.”

Seems to this author like Tesla will continue to innovate the stagnant designs of the automobile industry and push competitors to not only find ways to increase energy efficiency in vehicles, but improve the air quality inside of them as well.

If you have an extra $90,000 in change in your couch cushions, it may behoove you to purchase one of these beauties!



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