Disinfect indoor air with UV light, bipolar ionization

Indoor air quality (IAQ) has been a hot topic over the last year and a half due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the aim of every hotelier to provide IAQ that is free of viruses and other pathogens. HVAC and PTAC filtration is just one of the processes that aid in keeping air clean indoors.

Purge Virus, based in Conshohocken, PA, provides air-conditioning unit disinfection services for the hospitality industry, among other businesses.

“Ventilation and disinfection are complicated when it comes to aligning the right technology and correctly integrating advanced filtration, air quality meters, energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) and economizers with building management systems (BMS),” said Charlie Szoradi, founder/chief technology officer, Purge Virus. “A surprisingly small percentage of HVAC service providers have the depth of engineering and expertise to improve IAQ effectively and affordably. Purge Virus is pleased to work with leading HVAC companies that have multiple decades of experience and also welcomes the opportunity to work with HVAC contractors that may already work with any given hotel.”

The company uses advanced bipolar ionization and ultraviolet (UV) technology to disinfect the indoor air.
“Both technologies safely integrate into heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts and air handling systems,” noted Szoradi. “For hotel common areas and other spaces that have central HVAC, the installed cost for our ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) is typically less than $0.50 per square foot, and it is even lower at under $0.33 per square foot with our bipolar ionization technologies.”

He added, “Given that many hotel rooms have ductless systems such as packaged terminal air conditioner (PTAC) units, mini-split systems or ceiling cassettes, we also provide disinfection solutions that are sized to the specific existing equipment. In short, we align the relevant technologies to the conditions at each hotel.”

The company also offers “mobile” disinfection with portable devices that could be set on housekeeping carts. “The mobile solution was based on the idea that the housekeepers could simply ‘plug in’ the disinfection device and clean the air in the rooms while they were cleaning them,” Szoradi said. “The mobile disinfection option costs less than $500 per housekeeping cart, which can service hundreds of rooms over the course of any given month. The added advantage of the mobile technology for hotels is that it also cleans the rooms of odors through the combination of the advanced photoplasma and UV light.”

While UV and bipolar ionization both disinfect the air inside a space, they work differently to accomplish that task.
“Ultraviolet radiation (UVC) is a proven means of mitigating the spread of acellular microorganisms such as COVID-19 because of how the wavelength irradiation disrupts the ability for the virus to replicate,” said Szoradi. “The key is to set the right dosage and either encapsulate the UVC in portable devices or to integrate the UVC lights into HVAC duct work and/or air handling unit plenums, where it is not visible to humans. Bipolar ionization is also a proven means of disinfection where the ions seek pathogens and create clusters as well as destroy the surface ‘spike’ proteins of the virus, preventing the ability for the virus to harm human cells. The key is to set the right ion density relative to the cubic feet per minute of airflow.”

Naturally, common areas where there is the most foot traffic are the ideal places to install the UVC and bipolar ionization equipment.

“Purge Virus has provided disinfection for multiple lobbies at different types of properties as well as restaurants of varying size,” said Szoradi. “We have also provided disinfection for multi-family housing facilities such as senior living properties that are similar in many ways to hotels. The ‘club house’ areas that we helped disinfect include fitness rooms, pools and meeting areas. Guestroom disinfection is often top of mind for hotels, and we see that path as parallel to the common areas.”

He noted that the ideal location within the HVAC unit to install both technologies is the plenum of the air handling unit. “The plenum is the area that is between the fan coils and the supply trunk duct,” said Szoradi. “The devices are mounted to clean the air as it passes through the plenum, and we design the placement location to maximize its ability to also clean the coils for added energy savings and maintenance reduction by preventing the growth of microorganisms such as mold and mildew on the coils.”

He also pointed out that the company provides “Clean Air!” static cling stickers for glass doors as well as table tent/counter signage to let hotel guests know that the ownership/management is proactive about air quality safety.

Purge Virus is currently working on advancing three initiatives for the hospitality industry, Szoradi noted, including IAQ as a Service, “specifically for hotels that will take into account available utility rebates for energy savings as a means to reduce the monthly payments even lower than current levels”; additional options for the housekeeping carts using mobile disinfection; and overall safe and efficient building technologies for hotels to reach sustainability goals through the company’s strategic relationship with the Energy Intelligence Center.

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