A Robust and Low-cost Technology for Risk Mitigation of Pathogenic Infection in HVAC Systems
This project aims to develop a technology to minimize the spread of biological hazards and eliminate the risk of infection to pathogenic micro-organisms in ventilated buildings. In normal conditions, alarge portion of the supply air to rooms consists of the recirculated air to conserve energy. Hence, the ventilation system can transport indoor air contaminants such as particulates, airborne microbial agents, and organic toxins, posing safety and health hazards to the occupants. Also, filters can entrap and accumulate micro-organisms. They may even become a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria, turning the filter into a biologically hazardous object. Any change or disturbance in the airflow may release some of the microbes into the environment. The filter disposal may also become hazardous unless a safe disposal protocol is followed to minimize the risks. As such, it is essential to disinfect the filters to inactivate the microbes, avoid creating a medium for multiplication of the pathogens and prevent the risk of episodic release of the germs into the building. This is particularly important during pandemics and in critical places such as hospitals and clinics where the air’s pathogen concentration could be high. Although several technologies have been developed for air purification, these technologies are either ineffective or are costly or both. The goal of this project is to develop an effective and inexpensive air purification technology for broad applications in different settings.