Integrated Technology Air Cleaners (ITAC): Design and Evaluation
The primary objective of this project was to design, build, and test an air cleaner for residential use with the potential to substantially improve indoor air quality, or maintain indoor air quality unchanged, when outdoor air ventilation rates are reduced to save energy. Two air cleaners were designed and fabricated. The design targets for airflow rate, fan power, and projected cost were met. In short term laboratory studies, both units performed as expected; however, during field studies in homes, the formaldehyde removal performance of the air cleaners was much lower than expected. In subsequent laboratory studies, incomplete decomposition of some indoor air volatile organic compounds, with formaldehyde as a product of partial decomposition of volatile organic compounds, was confirmed as the explanation for the poor formaldehyde removal performance in the field studies. The amount of formaldehyde produced per unit of decomposition of other volatile organic compounds was substantially diminished by increasing the amount of catalyst on the filter and also by decreasing the air velocity. Together, these two measures reduced formaldehyde production, per unit destruction of other volatile organic compounds, by a factor of four, while increasing the removal efficiency of volatile organic compounds by a factor of 1.4. A company with a southern California office is conducting studies in conjunction with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, with the goal of incorporating the ITAC catalytic air cleaning technology in their future commercial products.