Lucky those who find themselves in a Tesla Model Y during a bioweapons attack! Because then it is not unlikely that you will survive -- as long as you don't get out. At least that's what Elon Musk says. On closer inspection, however, Tesla's new gadget turns out to be just a normal filter against fine dust, albeit a very effective one.
The idea of protection against bioweapons is not entirely new, however. Bioweapon protection was already available for retrofitting to the previous Tesla models X and S, but in the Model Y the particulate filter required for this purpose has been improved even further and is also fitted as standard. The air supply can be professionally regulated in an emergency. With the “bioweapon protection” setting, there is a slight overpressure inside the car so that particles and germs cannot be forced into the vehicle.
The HEPA filter responsible for this, a so-called HEPA filter (HEPA is the acronym for High Efficient Particulate Air), can do more than just neutralise biological weapons. Because a Tesla Model Y also offers protection for less dramatic events: in the peak pollen season, for example, and from soot particles when you are in a traffic jam or next to a forest fire. Even a longer stay in a traffic jam increases the concentration of soot particles in the cabin considerably more than if one were to walk next to the traffic jam, where the wind distributes the particles better. The same applies to smoke and pollen: Normally, it is difficult to avoid the allergy-triggering substances that enter the vehicle interior through the ventilation. However, the HEPA filter fitted to the windscreen in Tesla ensures that the air is spotlessly clean, and amazingly fast: particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) are eliminated from the vehicle interior within just two minutes, 99.97 percent of the time.
And the air is not only cleaned inside the vehicle cabin. The air directly around the car is also much cleaner thanks to the HEPA filter. In the case of electric cars, this is mainly a matter of tyre abrasion, since the electric cars do not produce any exhaust gases. If the effectiveness of the filters could be increased and an even larger area could be cleaned, perhaps even environmental zones would become superfluous at some point.