ASHRAE Research Investigates Photocatalytic Oxidation Technology for Air Cleaners

AIR-CLEANING equipment featuring new photocatalytic oxidation technology is used to remove contaminants from indoor and outdoor air. However, does this technology also introduce chemicals into the air?

New research from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) will provide a method for analyzing byproducts from photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) air cleaning devices, improving understanding of the technology.

"This research will lead to a new generation of air cleaners that have both low energy operation and low release of chemicals," said Carolyn Kerr, a member of ASHRAE's Technical Committee (TC) 2.3, Gaseous Air Contaminants and Gas Contaminant Removal Equipment, which is overseeing the project. "This will assist in providing an optimal indoor environment for buildings, vehicles and facilities for comfort, health and productivity of occupants."

PCO, used for removal of gaseous contaminants, requires less energy to operate than many existing filter systems, according to Kerr. In the best-case scenario, all of the contaminants removed are converted to non-threatening levels of carbon dioxide and water. However, the contaminant conversion process has the potential to release chemicals that are less desirable than the ones being removed from the air stream, Kerr said.

The research will investigate a variety of stand-alone and in-duct air cleaners using PCO technology, challenging them with several airborne contaminants to identify chemicals released.

ASHRAE Research Project 1457, "By-Product Production from Photocatalytic Oxidation Associated with Indoor Air Cleaning Devices," was awarded to University of Wisconsin. The $124,889 project is expected to take two years to complete.

ASHRAE: http://www.ashrae.org

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