May 05, 2020 Heal Your Commercial Building’s Air With Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation
Keep HVAC Operating at Peak Performance
If you’re a building maintenance supervisor or HVAC/R contractor, then chances are you’ve witnessed, or smelled, a fouled coil, or nasty microbial-laden plenums and drain pans. It’s worse when you actually know what that gunk is—a combination of bacteria carcasses, mold and fungi. Just what you want to inhale, right?
In a recent article, published by ACHR News Magazine, Forest Fencl of UV Resources and ASHRAE Fellow, discusses how ultraviolet-C (UV-C) technology can be properly sized and applied in HVAC applications.
Fencl notes that while many maintenance engineers adopt an annual coil cleaning schedule, there is a more cost-effective and permanent alternative. By installing UV-C lighting, your building will have a simple, low-cost, and highly reliable technology that keeps HVAC systems running at ‘as-built’ conditions.
UV-C rips apart elemental bonds in organic matter, degrading them similarly to how UV light from the sun degrades vinyl and rubber, etc. UV-C eliminates biofilms, mold and fungi, and other organic contaminants on coils, drain pains, and plenum interiors.
In new HVAC/R systems where UV-C is applied, such buildups won’t form because of the continuous UV-C irradiation. In retrofit applications, UV-C degrades the organic matter that has accumulated over time, and then prevents it from returning. It also penetrates all the way through coils to eliminate the build-up that mechanical and chemical washing often misses.
A 2010 study commissioned by ASHRAE found that even the most sophisticated organic compounds suffer from exposure to UV-C. Because UV-C operates 24/7, a well-distributed dose is all that’s needed, using no more energy than commercial fluorescent lights.
System efficiency: UV-C eliminates and/or prevents the buildup of organic material on coils, drain pans, and interior air-handler surfaces to improve airflow and to return/maintain heat-transfer levels to “as-built” capacity. UV-C installed in older systems reduces energy use by 10-25 percent on average.
Comfort and IAQ: Clean systems don’t contribute to foul odors, allergens, or pathogens in air streams. They help sustain design temperatures and airflow. This translates to comfort, IAQ, occupant productivity, lower incidences of sick days, reduced hot/cold calls, and other service requests.
Environmental impacts: UV-C is a green technology that can eliminate chemical and mechanical (water) cleaning to reduce waste disposal issues. Efficient air-handler units not only save energy — they reduce carbon footprints.
Economic impact: Reducing energy costs, sick calls, service calls, and system downtime for maintenance translates into significant cost savings. Buildings with highly functioning HVAC systems also increase the value of building tenant leases by lowering building occupant turnover.
UV-C light is an incredibly effective and affordable technology for keeping critical components of commercial HVAC systems clean and operating to as-built specifications. Benefits include greater energy efficiency, lower operating expenses, fewer occupant complaints, and better IAQ. UV-C is relatively easy to apply.
To read Mr. Fencl’s full article on the topic, please click here.