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issue: August 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine

Technology Report
Pure Technology


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Designed for air-purification systems, a photocatalytic substrate combines the key properties of low pressure drop, high oxidation rates and UV light transmission.

Lumalier is using Quartzel felt from Saint Gobain Quartz in its three-stage IAQ-1 air quality system, which can be installed in most 1.5-ton to 5-ton air-handler and furnace units. The Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.-based OEM says that the felt enables the purification system to destroy volatile organic compounds, including tobacco smoke, pet smells, chemicals fumes, and most common household odors.

The Quartzel® substrate, developed by Saint Gobain Quartz of Nemours, France, uses a process known as photocatalysis to destroy air pollutants while aiding in ozone reduction. Applications include air purification systems such as stand-alone air purifiers, in-duct HVAC residential units and large building systems.
The key features of the substrate stem from the nature of the material and a photocatalysis chemical reaction. The substrate is manufactured by impregnating TiO2 on ultra pure silica felt made up of fused quartz fibers. The quartz fibers have a 100-percent mineral composition and naturally conduct UV light. This purity is said to make the material resistant to UV light or chemical degradation and will not poison the TiO2 catalyst. This is critical in order to maintain the performance of an air-purification system, according to Jean-Marie Harry, sales and marketing director of Industrial Products. “If the material contained alkali, elements such as Na (sodium) and K (potassium) would migrate from the fiber to the TiO2 coating, reducing the photocatalytic efficiency of the system,” Harry explains.
To destroy pollutants, photocatalysis uses the UV light and TiO2 semiconductor on the substrate to create a hydroxyl radical from the water present in the air. This hydroxyl is said to have twice the power of chlorine in destroying organic molecules and converts them into basic molecules such as CO2 and H2O. Using the oxidizing power of the hydroxyl radical, air purification systems can destroy volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as halogenated organics, surfactants, herbicides, and pesticides.
The company says it also developed a patented technology for optimal TiO2 coverage and adhesion. With a large surface area of 120 m2/g, the TiO2 is said to provide excellent pollutant/odor absorption capability and bacteria trapping, and can help reduce mold.
Harry says the photocatalytic substrate offers several advantages compared to carbon-based systems. Whereas carbon systems only absorb pollutants and need to be changed frequently, photocatalysis is a chemical reaction and can be continuously operated. In fact, Quartzel doesn’t require a carbon layer at all; it can absorb organic molecules right on its surface. Pollutants that can be treated include formaldehyde, aldehyde, ethylene, phenolic compounds, alcohol compounds, alcene, alcyne, carbon family compounds, and sulfur. The substrate is also said to have an effect on ozone reduction.
With a low density of less than 10 kg/m3, the substrate enables a pressure drop that is lower than G4 (MERV 10) and 50 Pa (0.2 inches of water) in residential HVAC filters. “This pressure drop is key in designing an HVAC system,” Harry says. “The higher the pressure drop, the bigger the fan has to be, resulting in more noise, more energy consumption and a more costly system.”
Although the material is currently used in HVAC applications, Harry notes that the technology may have potential in water purification systems. She also offers engineers some tips to get the most out of the substrate: use UVA A or UV C lamps, and apply one layer of Quartzel to each side of the UV lamps to increase efficiency.
Available in North America through Davidon Industries of Warwick, Rhode Island, U.S., Quartzel has an areal weight of 100 g/m2, a thickness of 10 mm and a surface area of 120 g/m2.

Suppliers mentioned in this article:
Saint-Gobain Quartz Ltd.
Davidon Industries Inc.
 

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