Office of Technology Transfer – University of Michigan

Electro-hydrodynamically Enhanced Destruction of Airborne Chemical Contaminants and Biological Agents

Technology #6520

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Figure. 2-D numerical simulation of an air flow (0.1 m/s) within a channel with three wire discharge electrodes (0.5 cm diameter) along the centerline. Left: Applied voltage of -70 kV. Right: uncharged. Upper: Fluid velocity distributions, color contours and streamlines. Lower: Airborne contaminant concentrations due to destruction by excited species (Reaction rate = 1e3 m6/mol2). Uncharged DRE = 34.1% (lower right) as compared to EHD-influenced DRE = 67.3% (lower left).
Categories
Researchers
Herek L. Clack
Managed By
Keith Hughes
Assistant Director, Physical Sciences & Engineering 734-764-9429
Patent Protection
US Patent Pending

Process for Electro-hydrodynamically Enhanced Destruction of Chemical Air Contaminants and Airborne Inactivation of Biological Agents

Recent devastating viral outbreaks such as Ebola and avian flu heightened the public’s interest in how pathogens are transmitted and what protective measures have to be implemented against the wide-spread transmission. Chemical contaminants, such as those emitted from automobiles, continue to plague large populations around the world with lung disease and other pollutant-related health problems. There is a dire need for a technology that effectively inactivates biological pathogens as well as chemical contaminants. This “filterless” air disinfecting technology uses electro-hydrodynamic (EHD) phenomena to direct air streams to regions of highest potential for pathogen inactivation, thereby enhancing the effectiveness of air filtration. Protecting the public from chemical contaminants and biological pathogens is a healthcare and social priority. Current air filtration technologies either incur a high energy penalty or display limited effectiveness for pathogen inactivation.

EHD-Assisted Pathogen Inactivation

This technology leverages a strong electric field and forces the air stream toward the electrically discharged electrodes which are also the region with the highest potential to destruct airborne pathogens and chemical contaminants. This leads to a highly effective scheme for pathogen inactivation and air purification. Preliminary simulation has shown a higher airborne contaminant destruction rate using this electro-hydrodynamic technology than conventional method. This technology is useful for HVAC systems and other contaminant-controlled environments. It is technologically similar to existing methods such as UV disinfection, ionic disinfection and photocatalytic oxidation, however, UV or ionic sterilization is likely to be insufficient to meet the disinfection standards of destroying 90% of various pathogens. Photocatalytic oxidation requires catalysts which lose their effectiveness over time and can be more expensive due to material and design considerations. This technology can be more effective in pathogen inactivation than UV/ionic disinfection and does not require the use of photo-catalysts.

Applications

  • Commercial building HVAC systems
  • Sterile room contaminant control
  • Commercial aircraft cabin environmental control

Advantages

  • Filterless
  • Lower operating cost than particulate filter
  • Tunable system (e.g. the voltage applied to the electrodes can be changed to optimize performance).
  • Potentially provides pathogen inactivation capability which is currently not met by existing products, as stated by US EPA