January 31st, 2013 by James Ayre
Researchers at Washington University have recently developed a new type of air purification device that is much more effective than older technologies.
The device, a soft X-ray electrostatic precipitator, was able to protect “immunocompromised mice from airborne pathogenic bacteria, viruses, ultrafine particles, and allergens,” in a recently done study.
According to the researchers, the device, known as a SXC ESP, has many potential uses and will be very helpful in many environments.
“Small particles are difficult to remove, and our device overcomes that barrier,” says Pratim Biswas of Washington University, St. Louis. “The device not only captures particles with a high level of efficiency that has never before been achieved; it also inactivates them. Even bioterror agents are blocked and completely inactivated.”
Some of the most likely uses include: in hospitals, protection from bio-terror attacks for important buildings, in surgery rooms, in semiconductor fabrication, and filtering the air in fossil fuel power plants, and filtering out diesel exhaust particles in relevant environments.
The researchers note that the device could also be used inside of residential homes, “with a cost similar to that of high efficiency air cleaners,” says Biswas. “But it would be much easier to operate, and much more effective,” he adds. “It could be added into stand-alone indoor air cleaners, or incorporated into HVAC systems in homes, offices, and even in aircraft cabins. In the study, the device exceeded standards for high efficiency articulate air filters, which must be capable of removing particles larger than 0.3 micrometers with 99.97 percent efficiency.”
“The SXC ESP works by placing a charge on the particles — ‘which it does very effectively,’ says Biswas — and then using an electrical field to trap the particles. The SXC unit then also completely inactivates biological particles, by irradiating them, and photoionizing them — as UV light does, only more energetically.”
The technology was detailed in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Image Credits: Atmosphere via Wikimedia Commons
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