School of Public Health Builds and Installs Corsi-Rosenthal Air Cleaners

Students set up a Corsi-Rosenthal Cube

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University School of Public Health] — The School of Public Health has launched a new health project designed to help combat and mitigate COVID-19: Corsi-Rosenthal Cubes. The brainchild of two environmental engineers looking for an effective, low-cost way to remove air particles, the DIY air cleaners can be constructed in less than an hour for about $120 in materials costs. They are already in use in homes, schools, and university campuses across the country. 

The Cube is made of four MERV13 filters taped together to form the sides of a box. A 20-inch box fan is placed on top and held with duct tape to the filters, sealing the system so that air is drawn in through the filters and up and out of the box. The fan’s cardboard box is repurposed to finish the bottom of the cube and to create a cardboard “shroud” on the fan to further improve efficiency and reduce backflow. 

“The Corsi-Rosenthal Cubes are a great example of a hands-on public health intervention that can have an immediate impact on the school environment and our community’s overall health,” Dean Ashish Jha said. 

As part of Brown’s Corsi-Rosenthal Cube project, Professor Joseph Braun and team are studying the Cubes’ efficacy at removing particulates from the air. By comparing a room’s air quality - including the presence of particulates and semi-volatile organic compounds - before and during the fan’s operation, Braun will investigate the Cubes’ benefits beyond mitigating COVID infection risk, including reducing exposure to potentially toxic indoor and ambient air pollutants. The results of this research will demonstrate the Cubes’ potential to be used in other contexts, including congregate settings that may not have existing air filtration systems. 

The first Cubes have been constructed and placed in classrooms and conference rooms in SPH. Additional Cubes will be built in the coming weeks for use in communal spaces around the University. There are also hopes to partner with local community organizations in the future to provide Corsi-Rosenthal Cubes to schools, libraries, or other group settings. 

Within the School of Public Health, the Corsi-Rosenthal Cubes are an additional measure to help ensure clean air and appropriate air exchange rates in SPH spaces. The Cubes will support the interventions that the University has already put in place to ensure that HVAC and filtration systems are operating optimally. And of course, the SPH community will continue to follow existing safety measures like masking. 

To learn more about the project at Brown or to help to build Cubes, please email the SPH Operations Team for more information.