It seems, now in India, we are about to get a breathing time till the (anticipated) third wave of COVID – 19 hits the country, which is expected by the end of November 2021. We have already started receiving instructions on how to combat the situation as mostly it will create a far more dangerous situation and more children will be infected.
According to a statement from the World Health Organisation (WHO), “any situation in which people are in close proximity to one another for long periods of time increases the risk of transmission. Indoor locations, especially settings where there is poor ventilation, are riskier than outdoor locations. Activities where more particles are expelled from the mouth, such as singing or breathing heavily during exercise, also increase the risk of transmission.”
WHO also states that the ‘Three C’s are a useful way to think about this. They describe settings where transmission of the COVID-19 virus spreads more easily:
- Crowded places;
- Close-contact settings, especially where people have conversations very near each other;
- Confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.
The risk of COVID-19 spreading is especially high in places where these ‘3C’s’ overlap.
Although the HVAC industry can’t do much with the outdoor environment except using refrigerants of low-GWP and prevention of leakage of the untoward fluids to the surrounding, it has immense potential to improve the indoor atmosphere. There are four ways to mitigate the chance of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 viruses’ (SARS-COV-19) attack by inactivating them using technology. We have to use one of the following methods or their combination to maintain a safe Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), namely use of fixed filter, portable filter, ultra violet ray and ionization. Thus, let us see some of the examples to note how the HVAC industry is helping in mitigating the spread of COVID -19.
A High Capacity Air Scrubber for Wide Space
Within the pandemic phase, Carrier has launched its OptiClean 1500-cfm Dual-Mode Air Scrubber & Negative Air Machine, which is ideal for helping in maintaining clean and healthy indoor air quality in classrooms, cafeterias, libraries, gymnasiums, restrooms and other infectious isolation rooms in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients. The new model draws air from inside larger spaces, indoor areas. It is an extension of its OptiClean 500-cfm unit.
Like the 500-cfm unit, the OptiClean 1500-cfm unit plugs into a standard wall outlet and uses a greater than 99.97% efficient, long-life HEPA filter to significantly reduce the presence of coronavirus and other contaminants in the air. OptiClean units exceed the ASHRAE school reopening recommendation that portable electric HEPA machines be introduced into each classroom and provide a minimum of two air changes per hour.
The Carrier OptiClean units are portable, taking only about three-square feet of floor space when oriented vertically, and can also be operated horizontally, allowing for convenient, unobstructed placement in classrooms, cafeterias, libraries or gymnasiums. One 500-cfm unit can adequately clean the air in an average-sized classroom; the 1500-cfm unit is designed for larger spaces. In both cases, multiple units can be used for more expansive spaces.
An Air Purification Filtering Technology
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Thermal Systems, Ltd. (MHI Thermal Systems), a part of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) Group, has developed an air purification technology, which is effective for removal and inactivation of the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Also, this technology suppresses pollen and other allergens collected in the filter utilizing the power of enzymes and urea.
A demonstration test for this technology was conducted by Japan Textile Products Quality and Technology Center (Q-TEC). Specifically, filtering media in MHI Thermal Systems’ air purification filters was inoculated with a viral fluid containing SARS-CoV-2, and left to rest in an incubator at 350C for one hour. The stirred material was then collected, and the viral titer was determined through plaque assay Plaque-Forming Units (PFU).
When an assay for measuring the infective virus particle is done (Plaque assay, Focus assay), viral titre often refers to the concentration of infectious viral particles, which is different from the total viral particles.
Compared to the control sample of the viral fluid containing SARS-CoV-2 (left for one hour), the rate of inactivation for the filtering media in the air purification filter was 99.998%, confirming that in one hour of reaction time, the SARS-CoV-2 had been rendered nearly completely inactive.
As per the company, research to remove or inactivate viruses in areas where indoor air conditioning systems are applicable – contributes to efforts to counter viruses in indoor spaces, and is a pressing social issue. Going forward, MHI Thermal Systems will continue to conduct research in this field to develop antibacterial and antiviral technologies, to contribute to the realization of a society in which people can live with peace of mind.
A Technology to Inhibit Adhered Novel Coronavirus
Panasonic India has launched a new range of Air Conditioners (ACs) equipped with its nanoe X technology to inhibit adhered novel coronavirus. These products, under the company’s HU series are enabled with its recently announced nanoe X technology, i.e., it releases hydroxyl radicals contained in water. Hydroxyl radicals are also known as ‘nature’s detergent’ that are capable of inhibiting bacteria and viruses, including 99.99% of the adhered novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
As informed by the company, it has successfully tested the nanoe X device as well as nanoe X ACs for the inhibitory effect on the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) at Texcell Laboratory, France. The new line-up of the five-star inverter nanoe X ACs are available in 1-ton and 1.5-ton.
Future Looking Remark
As towards the beginning of 2020, the pandemic started spreading across the world, the HVAC industry too began to offer innovative, new products to combat the threat on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Since the beginning of the year, many value-added products are being launched, and the major focus is on coronavirus control.
The process of innovation will continue in the industry as the threat of the third wave is already here. However, more and more movable IAQ products will flood the market, primarily because of their low-cost and plug-&-play facility.
By P. K. Chatterjee (PK)