ASHRAE investigates photocatalytic oxidation technology

August 20, 2007 — ATLANTA, GA — Air-cleaning equipment featuring new photocatalytic oxidation technology is used to remove contaminants from indoor and outdoor air. But does this technology also introduce chemicals into the air?

New research from ASHRAE will provide a method for analyzing by-products 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,” says 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 says.

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 the University of Wisconsin. The $124,889 project is expected to take two years to complete.

The project is one of 12 ASHRAE recently approved for funding, totaling $1.4 million. Others are:

  • Modeling Low Velocity Large Scale Fluctuating Flows in Ventilated Spaces at Transitional Reynolds Numbers, RP-1271, Purdue University, two years, $120,156, sponsored by TC 4.10, Indoor Environmental Modeling.
  • Particle Counter Specification for Use with Filter Performance Test Standard ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 52.2-1999, RP-1287, RTI International, 15 months, $101,853, TC 2.4, Particulates air Contaminants and Particulate Contaminant Removal Equipment.
  • Modeling VOC Sorption of Building Materials and Its Impact on Indoor Air Quality


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