An indoor air purification technique, which combines unipolar ion emission and photocatalytic oxidation (promoted by a specially designed RCI cell), was investigated in two test chambers, 2.75 m3 and 24.3 m3, using nonbiological and biological challenge aerosols. The reduction in particle concentration was measured size selectively in realtime, and the Air Cleaning Factor and the Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) were determined. While testing with virions and bacteria, bioaerosol samples were collected and analyzed, and the microorganism survival rate was determined as a function of exposure time. We observed that the aerosol concentration decreased 10 to 100 times more rapidly when the purifier operated as compared to the natural decay. The data suggest that the tested portable unit operating in 25 m3 non-ventilated room is capable to provide CADR-values more than twice as great than the conventional closed-loop HVAC system with a rating 8 filter. The particle removal occurred due to unipolar ion emission, while the inactivation of viable airborne microorganisms was associated with photocatalytic oxidation. Approximately 90% of initially viable MS2 viruses were inactivated resulting from 10 to 60 min exposure to the photocatalytic oxidation. Approximately 75% of viable B. subtilis spores were inactivated in 10 min, and about 90% or greater after 30 min. The biological and chemical mechanisms that led to the inactivation of stress-resistant airborne viruses and bacterial spores were reviewed.
Originally appeared in Environmental Science & Technology / VOL. 41, NO. 2, 2007