Can sorbent-based gas phase air cleaning for VOCs substitute for ventilation in commercial buildings?
This paper reviews current knowledge about the suitability of sorbent-based air cleaning for removing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air in commercial buildings, as needed to enable reductions in ventilation rates and associated energy savings. The principles of sorbent air cleaning are introduced, criteria are suggested for sorbent systems that can counteract indoor VOC concentration increases from reduced ventilation, major findings from research on sorbent performance for this application are summarized, and related priority research needs are identified. Major conclusions include: sorbent systems can remove a broad range of VOCs with moderate to high efficiency, sorbent technologies perform effectively when challenged with VOCs at the low concentrations present indoors, and there is a large uncertainty about the lifetime and associated costs of sorbent air cleaning systems when used in commercial buildings for indoor VOC control. Suggested priority research includes: experiments to determine sorbent system VOC removal efficiencies and lifetimes considering the broad range and low concentration of VOCs indoors; evaluations of in-situ regeneration of sorbents; and an updated analysis of the cost of sorbent air cleaning relative to the cost of ventilation.