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Air purification frustrates airborne viruses

Businesses now have the chance to improve the indoor air quality of their premises thanks to a technology that has the potential to remove airborne virus particles from the air, supporting the safe reopening of offices and businesses for staff and customers.

Tests were conducted and verified by the world-renowned Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP in Germany. At the institute’s Indoor Air Test Center (IATC), a mechanically controlled and ventilated laboratory was used to replicate real-life conditions. Virus particles were tested before, during and after the ionair Air Quality System (AQS) was turned on, with results showing that the technology reduced the concentration of virus particles by between 99.49 and 99.59 percent. The virus under test was the bacteriophage Phi 6, commonly used in environmental studies as a surrogate for human enveloped viruses, including coronaviruses. 

SSE Enterprise has partnered with Swiss company, ionair, to deliver ionair’s air purification technology in mechanically ventilated buildings across the UK and Ireland. Using the principle of bipolar ionisation, ionair AQS can reduce contaminants in indoor air, markedly improving the indoor air quality for building occupants.

As the rollout of vaccines commences in the UK, it is hoped that restrictions imposed on hard-hit industries, such as hospitality and entertainment, will slowly be lifted. However, even once re-opened, businesses still have a long way to go to reassure customers and staff that their premises operate under the safest possible conditions - this is where technology like this can increase that much needed peace of mind.

Venues that could potentially benefit from the technology include restaurants, cinemas and theatres, which have been severely affected by government restrictions. ionair’s technology can also be used in airports, hospitals, care homes, hotels, offices, industrial facilities and sports centres. 

Kostas Papadopoulos, head of smart cities solutions development at SSE Enterprise, said: “We welcomed ionair's efforts to commission Fraunhofer IBP to rigorously test the effectiveness of their proprietary technology against a surrogate virus that is extensively used in coronaviruses and influenza studies. The results from this study are extremely positive and we view them as a strong indication that the risk of infection from airborne viruses is reduced when ionair AQS is in use. It is our hope that with this technology we can help improve the safety of buildings, providing further reassurance to the public when they start to return to workplaces in greater numbers later in 2021.”

He continued: “Moreover, as an energy company, we cannot forget the crucial aspect of energy efficiency, especially when current ventilation strategies are known to increase energy consumption. We are pleased that ionair AQS has been proven to reduce energy use by over 20%, as ventilation strategies can be optimised when air quality is improved.”

Philip Davis, director at ionair UK, said: “We are delighted to announce to our partners the recent efficacy data on airborne virus inactivation. With the growing evidence on airborne transmission routes, we felt it was time to conduct supporting research that can help make our buildings safer, whilst reducing the risk of transmission to its occupants. The research conducted by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics now enables us to demonstrate the efficacy of the ionair system against airborne pathogens. This recent study is another compelling argument of why air purification is needed in our buildings’ infrastructure.”

ionair’s AQS has already been proven to remove a large number of contaminants from the air, reducing odours by around 50%, germs, bacteria, fungus and pollen by more than 95%, fine particles by 30% to 50%, and several other airborne pathogens by more than 90%. However, the recent study was the first time the system has been tested on an airborne surrogate virus, typically used for research on coronaviruses and influenza. 

ionair’s® AQS can be retrofitted into a building’s existing air handling unit.

12 January 2021

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