By Jim Kerr

I’ve seen them on TV, in stores and even on sale at regional fairs. They are ion generators and they are marketed as devices that will clean the air in your home. I thought these were some of the high tech gimmicks that make fools part with their money so I never really gave them a serious look – until now.

Toyota is now installing an ion generator in two of their popular sedans, the 2007 Camry XLE and the Camry Hybrid. They call it the Plasmacluster ionizer and it is integrated into the car’s dual zone automatic temperature climate control system. When a company such as
Toyota takes a system like this seriously, then there must be some real benefits to ion generator technology.

Toyota’s Plasmacluster ionizer system was developed by Sharp Corporation in 2000. Since then, over 10 million ion generators have been sold for homes, businesses and hospitals. Toyota adopted the system in 2003, with the 2007 Camry as the first automobile to incorporate the system.

What does it do? The system generates positive and negative ions. These ions seek out and surround airborne particles such as microbes, fungi, odours, moulds, allergens, bacteria and germs. When enough ions combine, they momentarily create hydroxyl (OH). Hydroxyl is very unstable and only exists for a fraction of a second, but during that time it will steal hydrogen from the microscopic particle to make it inactive. The particle then drops to the floor or is trapped in the climate control’s pollen filters. When ions come in contact with a person, the individual’s natural electrical field neutralizes them so they have no harmful effects.

To create the positive and negative ions, alternating positive and negative voltages are sent to a discharge electrode in the Plasmacluster. The electrode takes H2O molecules in the air and splits them into individual hydrogen and oxygen ions, charges them with opposite charges and sends them back into the air. The system generates about 7000 ions in a cubic foot of air and this is discharged from the left side dash vent. A driver might hear a slight sound during operation but otherwise, the system operation isn’t apparent – that is unless of course you like breathing clean air.

Some might confuse the Plasmacluster Ionizer system with ozone generators. The system is not an ozone generator – it is an ion generator. It is not toxic and will not harm humans in any way.

Ions are generated naturally too. If you have ever smelled the clean fresh air at the base of a waterfall, you have experienced the action of ions cleaning the air. Although many vehicles, including the Camry now have filters in the climate control to remove pollen and dust, the Plasmacluster Ionizer helps reduce germs, virus and bacteria as well. Even virus such as the Bird Flu virus are reduced by ion generator technology, however, the system cannot eliminate all virus and bacteria.

Imagine, with Plasmacluster Ionizer technology, it might be healthier to drive your Camry than to sit in your easy chair. What will they think of next?

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