Filterless Air Purification Can Help Beat Air Pollution Effortlessly

It is estimated that nearly 60 per cent of Indians are impacted by indoor pollution, while 8 lakh Indians die prematurely every year due to household air pollution.

Air pollution is one of the biggest public health crises India is facing today. It is home to 10 out of the world’s 21 most polluted cities and the PM2.5 concentration in the air of the national capital is almost 10 times the habitable limit set by World Health Organization (WHO). Combining the health, economic and financial impacts, it is estimated that India could have gained 1.4 billion working days by decreasing air pollution related sick leaves in 2019, which also means that the country missed an opportunity to gain USD 6 billion higher revenues for businesses. Clean air is also a matter of social equity as it tends to affect homebound people -- caregivers, elderly people, and children -- more than others. Therefore, though the country got its first smog tower last month much before the dreaded smog season, it is important to attend the common misconception that indoor air quality is safer than outdoor. In fact, it has been proven over the years that indoor air quality can possibly be even worse due to many indoor human activities and hence, controlling the indoor air quality remains equally important. While there are air purifiers that can effectively provide clean air indoors, filterless air purification technologies are an innovation worth exploring.

How do filterless air purification technologies work?

Indoor air pollution is common in India due to poor ventilation, relative humidity, indoor smoking, cooking, the presence of everyday household items such as perfumes, paints and polishes, candle or aroma burning, moulds and high construction and repair activities. It is estimated that nearly 60 per cent of Indians are impacted by indoor pollution, while 8 lakh Indians die prematurely every year due to household air pollution. In the conventional air purifiers, there are one or multiple filters that purify the air sucked in from the atmosphere and trap the smaller particles and irritants which cannot be seen by the naked eye. In fact, these filters themselves can become a secondary source of infection if not treated with utmost care, as the microorganisms trapped in these can thrive. A filterless system, as the name suggests, has no such limitations. Instead, the system is powered by magnetic technology with very high filtration efficiency. It employs a tri-stage micro-trapping process that combines impingement (collision), polarisation (filtration), and agglomeration (amassing materials) for a "trap and kill" effect that does not just trap the disease-causing agents but also eliminates them, ruling out the risk of activating secondary air-pathogen pollution. Such systems are effective in heavy dust conditions that can bring in bacteria and viruses causing tuberculosis or other respiratory or cardiac diseases. They also require far less effort and investment when it comes to maintenance as replacing filters are no longer required.

A few innovative filterless technologies, their workings and benefits:

Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation (UVGI)

This technology was first used in the 1930s in laboratory settings and received attention when tuberculosis cases started rising. Short wave UV rays in the spectral band of 100 to 280 nanometres and UV-C light band in the spectral range of 207 to 222 nanometres are found to be effective for aerosol disinfection without impacting human health adversely. UVGI technology, emitting UV rays in the range of 254 nanometres disinfects the air by disrupting the DNA of the microorganisms. This halts their reproduction and effectively kills them. UV-C light sterilizers can be fitted into standalone, on-coil, in-duct, or in-room air cooling and/or purifying applications that may help you get rid of bacteria such as E. Coli causing diarrhoea and other infections; Staphylococcus aureus causing skin and soft tissue infections; and viruses such as COVID-19.

Photo Hydro Ionized Oxidation+ (Phio+)

This is a hybrid active air purification technology that produces highly-reactive oxygen, which purifies both air and surface. PHIO+ is effective for controlling harsh smells and allergens in large spaces and reduces the bio-aerosol burden in the air. In turn, it diminishes the load of bacteria or viruses significantly in that space.

Cold Plasma Technology

An active air purification technology that produces a type of strong and electronically charged plasma, which purifies the air and the surface. In environments that have high concentrations of chemicals and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), this technology has emerged as a remarkably effective one. Various air inlet types -- Hi-Wall, Cassette, Window AC, Ductables, etc can accommodate this technology.

Photocatalytic Oxidation

The process prompts a rapid chemical reaction through UV light to break down a host of chemically complex gases and odours. Photocatalytic oxidation causes rapid degradation of VOCs by utilising the titanium dioxide (TiO2) as a catalyst. The technology can fit in small and large filter modules alike and has a proven ability to reduce the intensity of high concentrations of hazardous gases in large-scale infrastructure applications.

Therefore, there is a wide array of filterless air purification technologies and systems available which can help us successfully navigate the ever-rising pollution levels in our indoor spaces. The point that indoor pollution can be worse than outdoor pollution thereby posing more risks to human health must not be missed.

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